Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding

Celia Alvarez Munoz Petrocault

University Art Museum 
October 20, 2023-March 2nd, 2024
Opening: October 20, 2023, 5:30-7:30pm

English | Español

Breaking the Binding, Artist Celia Álvarez Muñoz’s Homecoming

Contact: Eva Gabriella Flynn; Education and Outreach Coordinator, NMSU Art Museum, egflynn@nmsu.edu, 575-646-2185

Las Cruces, NM- The NMSU Art Museum presents a career retrospective of artist Celia Álvarez Muñoz, on view from October 20, 2023- March 2, 2024.  Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding spans forty years and features over thirty-five artworks—including large-scale immersive installations, photographic series, and book projects—this major exhibition highlights the artist’s playful, witty style, often characterized by her use of bilingual puns and mistranslations in both text and image. Muñoz frequently draws inspiration from her lived experience as a resident of the United States-Mexico borderlands.

Originating from the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the exhibition was curated by Dr. Kate Green, Chief Curator & Nancy E. Meinig, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at Philbrook Museum of Art, and Isabel Casso, Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Celia's exhibition is accompanied by a full-color publication published by Santa Fe based non-profit, Radius Books that will be available at the opening and during the run of the exhibition. As the first seminal volume devoted to the artist’s career, the book will feature installation images of Muñoz’s work, alongside unpublished archival materials and timelines. Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding exhibition and publication provides a critical perspective on an influential yet under-studied artist and contributes to the growing field of scholarship on contemporary Latinx and Conceptual art.

Celia Álvarez Muñoz was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1937. When her father deployed during World War II, her mother, aunt, and maternal grandmother raised her–a dynamic that has influenced her work throughout her career. She studied at Texas Western University (now University of Texas) in El Paso, taking mostly commercial art classes. After teaching art for many years to children, in 1977, at the age of forty, she enrolled in graduate school at University of North Texas (NTSU). There she began work on her seminal series Enlightenment, exploring her personal memories of life on the U.S.-Mexico border in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Álvarez Muñoz has exhibited in museums and galleries nationally and internationally, crossing boundaries and territories to share the narratives of the borderland. Dr. Kate Green and Isabel Casso write, This retrospective brings together significant early works by Álvarez Muñoz, such as her Enlightenment series, and also realizes seven major installations the artist originally developed for museum exhibitions throughout the country. The exhibition takes its title from the English translation of Rompiendo la Liga (1989–1990), a multimedia artwork that marks Álvarez Muñoz’s transition from the bookform to three-dimensional installation, a practice that remains central for her today. The title points to a literal break in the artist’s practice, but it also captures the way Álvarez Muñoz has for decades continuously ruptured and troubled categorical boundaries, breaking the bindings that separate the individual and the collective.” 


Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding is on view from October 20, 2023 through March 2, 2024. Join us for the public opening reception with Celia in the University Art Museum on Friday, October 20, 2023, from 5:30-7:30pm. A series of bookmaking workshops will be held November 4, November 18, and December 2 at the UAM. Workshop participants can choose to exhibit their books in the Mullenix Bridge Gallery alongside artwork by Celia Álvarez Muñoz.


Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding  at NMSU was made possible in part with support from The Mellon Foundation; The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation; NMSU College of Arts & Sciences; Friends of the University Art Museum; Mullennix Art Museum Fund; George and Lucy Gray Endowed Art Fund; Charles T. Townley and Victor T. Roberts; and several private donors.  The original exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego was made possible by underwriting support from the Cochrane Exhibition.

UAM is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm, at 1308 E. University Ave., Las Cruces, New Mexico, 88003. Admission to all programming is free and open to the public. For more information and a detailed calendar with associated programs and dates please visit uam.nmsu.edu.

Opening Weekend Events in Collaboration with UTEP's Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts:

The Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts will open Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers on Thursday, October 19th, 5:00-7:30 pm., and Mi Casa Gallery in San Elizario, TX on Saturday, October 21st 11:00 am- 3:00 pm, which will be the future home of The Gaspar Enriquez Cultural Center.

Click here to see the full weekend schedule including gallery walkthroughs, screening and opening receptions: https://www.utep.edu/rubin/exhibitions/future/collidoscope-de-la-torre-brothers.html

Image Credit: Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Petrocuatl, 1988. Vinyl mural and Cibachrome print. Courtesy of the artist. Photography: Daniel Lang

Check out the Virtual 3D Tour below: