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UTEP Professor’s Alternate Timeline Displayed in U.S. Embassy

Last Updated on May 13, 2022 at 12:00 AM

Originally published May 13, 2022

By Daniel Perez

UTEP Marketing and Communications

A work of art created by a UTEP professor resonated with the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar and his wife, Esperanza. Today it decorates the Salazar home in the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

'Axihuical (El Paralelo),' a work of art by Angel Cabrales, assistant professor of art at The University of Texas at El Paso, is part of a new exhibit in the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in Mexico City. Courtesy photo
"Axihuical (El Paralelo)," a work of art by Angel Cabrales, assistant professor of art at The University of Texas at El Paso, is part of a new exhibit in the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in Mexico City. Courtesy photo

Angel Cabrales, assistant professor of art at The University of Texas at El Paso, is proud that his work, “Axihuical (El Paralelo),” is available for an international audience to interpret. The piece shows an alternate timeline where Europeans never colonized the Western Hemisphere.

Cabrales said that Salazar and his wife had seen the piece at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin during the “MX21 – Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience” exhibition, which was up from September 2021 through February 2022. Camille Benton, chief curator of Art in Embassies from the U.S. Department of State, told him in January 2022 that the couple wanted to display that piece in their embassy residence as part of “The United States and Mexico: A Powerful Past, A Shared Future,” an exhibit curated by the Art in Embassies program. Handlers installed the artwork in March 2022. It should stay there through 2025.

El Paralelo is the centerpiece of his traveling exhibition, “The Uncolonized: A Vision in the Parallel.” The piece, a series of laser cut tiles within a steel frame, is 16 feet long and more than 4 feet tall.

“The work is about creating dialogue, interest and pride in our Mesoamerican indigenous heritage,” Cabrales said. “By having it at the ambassador’s residence, hundreds of dignitaries from around the world will have access to the work. Being able to reach an international audience is one of my highest accomplishments.”

Salazar said that the embassy exhibit would explore the longstanding relationship between the United States and Mexico through a visual narrative that highlights a shared history of struggle and hope.

The exhibit “reflects the creativity and talent of Mexican and American artists, and recognizes the diverse indigenous groups living in the United States and Mexico and their contributions to our region’s cultural richness,” Salazar said.

Cabrales, who has taught sculpture at UTEP since 2014, believes in teaching through example.

“As a professional artist, I feel it is important to show students what can be done through hard work, dedication and commitment to your art,” Cabrales said.

Ivan Esparza, a senior art major with a concentration in sculpture and a double minor in metals and graphic design, has taken Cabrales’ classes for two years and become one of his assistants. He called Cabrales an outstanding educator who cares about his students and their development as artists. He said he was proud to work with an internationally recognized artist.

“It inspires me to keep working hard and to produce meaningful work that can influence others,” said Esparza, a first-generation college student who was born and raised in Juárez before he moved to El Paso in 2010.

Denis O’Hearn, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said that the college was extremely proud to see Cabrales’ work displayed at the embassy in Mexico City.

“Angel has been one of our most innovative and community-engaged professors in the arts,” O’Hearn said. “This is just one example of how important this emerging young artist is becoming.”

Cabrales encouraged people who find themselves in Mexico City to stop by the embassy and check out El Paralelo and other works in the exhibit. He plans to visit the embassy in July 2022 to see the exhibition and, hopefully, to meet Ambassador Salazar.