diana molina _

xx timeline at the crossroads xx

Exposed to a wide spectrum of diverse settings, artist and author Diana Molina’s socio-environmental portrayals touch on the deep connections linked to regional and international bonds, and ultimately personal identity. In a retrospective of journeys across boundaries, selections from her collections depict women, and, the environmental relationships to which she is rooted. Viewing the reflective surface of intimate journeys, her photography, artwork and research speak to a lived experience at the crossroads.

Diana Molina is an exhibiting artist and curator at the ESB Mexican American Cultural Center for Fall 2020. Her online exhibit XX Timeline at the Crossroads XX, can be viewed at any time on the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Diana's programmings relating to the exhibit are scheduled throughout Fall 2020. Her programs that have already occurred are available to view below, and upcoming programs will be available to view on this page and on the MACC Facebook.

“My work examines the spectrum of elements that inhabit my world. In various forms and mediums I observe the human experience with a lens focused on the environmental framework we inhabit. The artworks feature the result of the interwoven relationship between people, land, and culture and bring to light perspectives from the road less traveled. I illustrate the borders of my homeland and those I cross, not only in the literal sense of a governmental division of territory, but also by the influence of ideologies, customs, politics, economics and views of life.” Diana Molina

The Book: Icons and Symbols of the Borderland

Diana Molina, Author

In the video below, Diana Molina presents her book, Icons and Symbols of the Borderland: Art from the US-Mexico Crossroads as part of her retrospective exhibition at the MACC. This collection of artwork, poetry, and essays combine tradition, culture, history, and nature in a variety of subjects and themes that touch on everything from the religious and mythological to the commercial and socio-political.

the Exhibit: XX Timeline at the Crossroads XX

A multi-media exhibition by Diana Molina of the Juntos Art Association will trace a labyrinth of photography, film, and collage to crisscross dimensions of the Mestiza experience in a storyline that portrays and memorializes decades of border trajectories and ancestral journey leading to 2020. The female perspective is at the core of the storytelling as we re-imagine, collectively, equity of representation and voice.

Grito: Viva la voz de la mujer!

Diana Molina presented the program below as a part of the ESB Mexican American Cultural Center's Viva Mexico 2020 Online Event. This event focused on Gritos coming from the Latinx community. This program, Grito: Viva la Voz de la Mujer! is a call for the women’s vote,100 years after the U.S. right to vote was granted to women.

more About Diana Molina

Diana Molina, curator for the Icons and Symbols of the Borderland exhibit, has served as the creative director for the Juntos Art Association since 2012. Born a half-mile from the U.S.-Mexico boundary, her own artwork across diverse mediums explores the limitations of life on the fringe while appealing to a universal audience.

Drawn early on to the arts and science, Molina began her career in the initial stages of robotics and automation at IBM, followed by a decade working in Amsterdam as a photographer and writer for international magazines.

Living among the Tarahumara of Northern Mexico for long periods, Molina's first solo exhibition about the indigenous culture was prepared for the World Museum of Art in Rotterdam. Her photo essays are archived at the UT El Paso Special Collections Library and the UT Austin Benson Latin American Collection. Molina has been a part of the New Mexico Humanities Council Lecture Program since 2010 and continues to build on her interest in the connections between art, ecology, and humanity.

Scroll Down to View Diana's Online Exhibit and Digital Presentations:

Virtual Exhibit Opening: XX Timeline at the Crossroads XX

Celebrate the virtual exhibition opening of XX Timeline at the Crossroads XX with exhibiting artist Diana Molina. Join us for a series of artist studio visits to learn about the voice and representation of women in 2020. This kick-off program features artists from Molina’s book, Icons and Symbols of the Borderland: Art from the US-Mexico Crossroads: Cesar Martinez, Margo Tamez, Victoria Suescum, Davinia Miraval, and Gaspar Enriquez. This program was streamed live on Sept 18, 2020.

View the Digital Program Video Below:

Tour the Online Exhibit:

Diana Molina's online exhibit, XX Timeline at the Crossroads XX, is composed of 5 collections: Raramuri, Morena Moderna, Seven String Barbed Wire Fence, Viva Chihuahua, and Pura Basura. Scroll to view excerpts from these collections.


There is a place without email, computers, telephones, fax, traffic, pollution, and fast food – at a distance from the grasp of modern civilization. It’s a place where I’ve drunk from the cool, pure waters of a spring in the earth, where I’ve looked out to clear morning views of the depths and heights of the Sierra Tarahumara, and where I’ve heard the sweet strumming of a Rarámuri violin (Rarámuri is the uto-aztecan word for Tarahumara).

The Sierra Tarahumara, in the state of Chihuahua, is only 350 miles from the U.S. – Mexico border. Comprising approximately 17,682 square miles of the Sierra Madre Occidental, it holds the most dramatic complex of gorges anywhere in a concentrated area: there are seven major canyon systems that weave through massive uplifted plateaus sliced sharply by rivers. The mile-deep canyons penetrate one of the richest bio-systems in North America within the most important watershed in Mexico. Tarahumara life in this extreme mountain terrain was shaped by historic contact events with outsiders. My first journey into the remote vastness of the Sierra began in November 1993 within canyon depths on narrow, rugged foot paths lined with pitaya and nopal cactus, exotic subtropical trees, and serenading birds of many colors. Traversing small ranchos and a Tarahumara pueblo, the trails ascended about 6,000 feet into the pine, oak, and madrone forests. At night the stars glittered like the soulful smile in the eyes of the Rarámuri who helped me find my direction when I took a wrong turn. My blistered toes felt firmly grounded.

Walking the backbone of the Sierra Madre, I’ve also witnessed the devastation caused by modern consumerism and the scars it wreaks on earth’s wilderness. Centuries of Tarahumara lifestyle within the Sierra boundaries has not caused the degree of ecological devastation to the region as resource extraction by the outside world has caused in the last 50 years. Historically, contact between the Tarahumara and the outside world is an unbalanced alliance, resulting in negative long-term effects to their homeland. As new roads and technologies bring the two worlds closer together, it is beneficial and essential to the survival of both to avoid repetition of the historic mistakes of conquest and resource mismanagement. Education, awareness, and sensitivity are critical if there is to be better communication, understanding, and, most important, respect between distinct cultures and the land that sustains them.

The very nature of my being is rooted, in part, by the Rarámuri culture, and contact with the world around it. Each image represents a moment in my own personal journey of discovery, and the ancestral links to the Sierra Tarahumara, a place that moves me like no other.

"De colores"

Although the Rarámuri retain their basic ideologies, outside influences are visible in their traditional ceremonies as the foreign element becomes incorporated. During the ceremonies there are armies of Pharisees and Moors engaging in mock battles, a form of pageantry first introduced by the Jesuits in the early 1600s. Wearing turkey-feathered crowns, the soldiers wrestle against the opposing forces in a struggle between good and evil, the armies exchanging roles during the pageant. Women engage in colorful processions but abstain from physical battle.

"Amistad / Friendship"

One of my first friendships in the Tarahumara community began with Sochi, pictured on the far right. Children from surrounding ranchitos attend a government-funded boarding school in the Tarahumara pueblo within their community. They are taught mathematics, reading, and writing in both Spanish and Rarámuri. To continue her education after primary school, Sochi is obliged to attend a boarding school for Rarámuri in Guachochi, two full days travel from her home in the canyon. The secondary school closer to her home in the Mestizo community of Batopilas is out of reach both financially and socially.

When Sochi arrives home from Guachochi, her attire is completely different from the colorful, traditional clothes she grew up wearing. Conforming to the dress codes she is obligated to follow at school, her appearance is becoming gradually more like that of the Mestizos. This is an obvious outward example of the continuing process of acculturation.

"Semana Santa"

Semana Santa is the Catholic celebration of Easter week. The ceremonies coincide with the Rarámuri celebration of the New Year as related to the planting season. The Holy Week includes colorful clowning antics, competitive dancing, processions through


Our Lady of Guadalupe, emerges from a complex mixture of cultural differences which began with the Spanish and Moors, and the Conquistador and the Aztec. According to legend, “La Virgen Morena”, the brown-skinned Madonna was the first miraculous apparition in Mexico soon after the arrival of the Spanish in the New World. It’s claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert upon the sacred grounds to the shrine of Tonantzin, the Aztec earth goddess of fertility. Surrounded by brilliant sunlight, and draped by a cloak of starlight, the earth- toned Madonna with child, left her imprint on his cloak. Epitomizing womanhood, her image personifies a universal spirit of love, hope, compassion and a humble strength. In a time of great crisis and plague, she appeared as a chaste protective mother, Spanish-style. As the legend spread, the indigenous of Mexico integrated her colonial origins with the spiritual realm of Tonantzin and her iconic representation became a synthesis of complex, evolving ideas of spiritual, political and racial identity.

"Por el Camino a Casa"

The Matachin dance is prevalent in celebrations across the borders and this image was taken on a dirt road very close to home. With origins in Europe as a Medieval sword dance, it dramatizes the battle between Christianity and Paganism. The Spanish imported the ritual to the Americas where it has evolved to include Mexican, Indian and American religious and social symbols.


Nestled in the New Mexican Desert between Old Mesilla and Las Cruces, the Tigua Community of Tortugas kick up the dust in a sunset dance by groups of Matachines. Festivities last for four days and nights and include a procession that winds up the rocky, cactus lined Tortugas Mountain.

"Bendita eres entre todas las mujeres"

The image of Guadalupe takes on a corporeal reality integrated among contemporary newsstands. Through art and literature, feminists and a new generation of Mexicanas and Chicanas infuse the image of the Morena Moderna with new conceptual representations of women today.


Many Faces of Latino Immigration to the United States.

It seems everyone has a different goal in immigration policy reform.

Depending on who they are and what they believe, where they live and how they think immigration impacts them, people debate differently how to improve the system.

The one thing most if not all people agree on is that change is needed. Current practices kill hundreds of people, allow hundreds of thousands to enter the country surreptitiously and force millions to spend their lives in the shadows of society. And yet, in pursuit of better lives and opportunities than those they can find in their home countries, migrants have long been coming to the United States.

The change that occurred in recent years – that grabs so much attention – is that more immigrants are coming illegally than legally, if the count of people on temporary visas is left out of the equation. And this trend spawns numerous concerns and problems for the migrants and residents they join in the United States.

In part, people disagree on reform-solutions because of the phenomenon’s complexity. Unauthorized immigration is hard to measure and is pushed or checked by the economies and politics of multiple nations. Further, the issue is emotionally charged. Tied to culture and compassion, the reform debate forces public decisions based on personal beliefs.

But despite the topic’s sharp and tangled nature, people do take action. They trek deserts and patrol borders. They board civil-rights buses and march in the streets. And they all do it so that the world, as they understand it, will get better.

"Arms linked at the Edmund Petis Bridge"

Tracing civil rights history, the immigrant riders marched the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Violence had erupted there in 1965 when white police attacked with clubs, whips and tear gas a group of peaceful black protesters. María Jiménez, a longtime immigrant advocate who helped organize the ride, connected the struggles. “Discrimination against the foreign born is the last vestige of legal discrimination in the world,” she said. Third from the right Jimenez walked with the Freedom Ride’s National Director, María Elena Durazo, fourth from right.

"Resident Alien" 2006

Identification cards are a hot-button issue in the immigration debate, as some argued terrorists could use them. Florida and Missouri enacted laws that banned unauthorized immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses in 2006. Colorado passed a law disallowing recognition of the matricula consular, an identification card Mexico produces for its citizens. The driver’s license bans are paradoxical as many unauthorized immigrants help build the nation’s roads.

"Fronterorismo" 2004

“Why is it wrong to secure our borders?” asked one of the Minutemen volunteers, Larry, who said he builds Habitat for Humanity houses that go to Latinos. “They call me a racist when I’m trying to help Hispanics,” he said.

“I don’t have a racist bone in my body – really burns me up.”


Our landscape is a vital part of our heritage _ our regional consciousness. While humans create culture, the land itself has a direct influence in that creation. Our geography, with distinct natural features, unifies the experience of place, gives shape to our unique identity and collective character.

The Chihuahuan Desert straddles the border to cover more than 200,000 square miles that extend into parts of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. On the Mexican side, it covers the northern half of Chihuahua, most of Coahuila, and parts of Durango, Zacatecas and Nuevo León. It is considered to be the most biologically diverse desert in the world as measured by the variety of species and endemic plants. The mean annual precipitation for the Chihuahuan Desert is 235 mm (9.3 in). Its relevance and impact to the culture and traditions of its human inhabitants, beginning with the Native Americans, is intertwined with survival in a distinct landscape.

In my own specific surroundings, the average rainfall from the August monsoons is 2 inches. In 2020, the measure was only ½ and inch!

Living within the terrain of a desert mesa in Southern New Mexico, my creative process is strongly influenced by these surroundings that provide daily doses of inspiration to my work. The collection of photographs aim to raise awareness of the Chihuahuan Desert and its symbolic features that embody an amazing resilience to live and thrive in what is commonly thought to be an inhospitable environment.

As climate change impacts our world, the significance of water sustainability is of tremendous consequence to our human experience within the arid space we inhabit. Rooted in the desert landscape, the images are a scratch in the sand to depict my relationship with the land and it's creatures.

"Claret Cups"

Echinocereus triglochidiatus is known by several common names, including Kingcup cactus and Claret Cup. Most abundant in shady areas, the Claret Cup Cactus is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where it is a resident of varied habitats from low desert to rocky slopes, scrub, and mountain woodland.

"Horned Toad"

The horned lizard has been affectionately called a "horny toad", or "horned frog", though they are not moist-skinned toads or frogs. The spines on its back and sides are made from modified Reptile scales, whereas the horns on the heads are true horns with a bony core. Their camouflage and slow, undramatic movements avoid triggering attacks by predators.

Texas designated the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum), the official state reptile in 1993.

"Organ Mountains Ridgeline"

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established to protect significant prehistoric, historic, geologic, and biologic resources of scientific interest, and includes four areas: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.The Organ Mountains are a steep, angular mountain range with rocky spires that jut majestically above the Chihuahuan Desert floor to an elevation of 9,000 feet. This picturesque area of rocky peaks, narrow canyons, and open woodlands ranges from Chihuahuan Desert habitat to ponderosa pine in the highest elevations.


Wrapped in serapes as a child, the tapestries that framed my world carry the stylistic influence of weavings that span generations and stem from trans-national journeys, materials, and customs. Inspired by the fabric of cultural heritage, the serapes I concoct from contemporary materials and found objects speak to the hidden impacts of what we buy, the materials we generate and the matter that we leave behind.

Working primarily with repurposed candy and beverage packaging, I tap into a view of the debris of human consumption. Overall, paper and paperboard containers and packaging totaled 41.1 million tons of waste in 2017. Together with the glass, plastic, wood, aluminum, and steel that pile higher than ever in 2020, society is challenged to consider waste management at the brink. As I confront my own role in the statistics, my collages and creative collaborations on this issue provide, not only a personal coping mechanism, but an aesthetically provocative message to re-purpose and re-think our way to solutions.

My process begins with the inter-active connections to collect materials from a variety of sources who send and deliver their packages of envelopes, bags and boxes filled with shiny remnants of their intake of sweets, beer, coffee and other delectable habits. Created from the social tissue of consumption which I mine, I cut, paste, and transform their fragments to generate symbolic representations of something related to the natural environment and culture that I am fused with. The juxtapositions of the unnatural materials include patterns and figures with translucent and reflective colors and textures of 100% recycled trash, Pura Basura.

"Serape Tecate" 2013

The discarded wrappings of modern Mexican American consumption form the palette for iconic representations of the shared story and tradition along the borderline. Molina is “drawn to recycle post-consumer wrappings to create work that reflects the cultural heritage, environment, and commercial intake of a binational landscape.”

"Corazón Espinado" 2015

Threaded with the remnants of imbibement, Corazón Espinado is a juxtaposition of the spiritual and the commercial, inviting viewers to consider the fine line between what nourishes and what poisons, what brings joy and what brings tribulation and heartache. Molina says, “Corazón espinado con deseo, memorias, sabores, dolores, celebración y canción. My fascination with dramatic representations of the sacred heart began with those found at La Iglesia de San Ignacio in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio and the rows of votive candles sold at most border grocery stores.”

"Agave" 2014

The agave epitomizes Molina’s passion for the Chihuahuan Desert landscape. Also called mescal, its use is a long-standing tradition among the native cultures of the Southwest. Mother of tequila and provider of sweet nectar, the slow-growing desert plant stores water in its thick leaves for one magnificent bloom before dying.

Created By
Olivia Tamzarian