Centennial Gift to Honor Relationship between Mexico and UTEP

By on November 22, 2013

On Thursday, Nov. 21, the Honorable Jacob Prado, Consul General of Mexico in El Paso, officially revealed the details of a gift to honor both The University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial in 2014 and the strong ties between the people of Mexico and UTEP.

The artist selected to create the gift is the acclaimed Mexican sculptor Sebastián, who began receiving awards for his work in the 1960s and continues to be broadly acclaimed today. Although best known for his large-scale sculptures, Sebastián’s other creative endeavors include architectural design, painting, jewelry making, public art, costume design and multimedia productions. Local residents may know the artist from his recent work, La Equis, a large red X located in Ciudad Juárez and visible in El Paso.

“UTEP has long enjoyed multi-faceted relationships with institutions and individuals in Mexico, particularly in Ciudad Juárez and the State of Chihuahua,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “We are honored and pleased to include as part of UTEP’s Centennial commemoration a work of art by a prominent Mexican artist that celebrates UTEP’s close ties with Mexico. With our unique border location and history of engagement with our neighbors to the south, the Sebastián sculpture’s message has special meaning for us, and we look very much forward to seeing the completed work installed on our campus next year.”

Sebastián plans to create a semispherical object entitled “Esfera Cuántica Tlahtolli.” Tlahtolli is a word that pictorially represents the act of speaking in early written documents from Aztec, Toltec and Mayan cultures.

Drawing on his interest in geometric figures, Sebastián envisions a piece made from deconstructed, then reconstructed, conical figures. The interplay between the mathematical expressions of cones and the edges of these shapes gives rise to elements and symbols emphasizing the fraternity between UTEP and Mexico.

The sculpture’s surface will also resemble a volute — a swirl shape that calls forth a rolled-up scroll — which will symbolize the activities of communicating and transmitting knowledge, thoughts and ideas that define quintessential university work.

The sculpture is part of Sebastián’s larger quantum series that has been exhibited in Mexico, France and the United States.

The sculpture will reflect UTEP’s connections to the people of Mexico and commemorate the shared respect between UTEP and the people of Mexico and support of higher education in the Paso del Norte region.

“I am extremely honored that UTEP has accepted this gift from Mexico,” said Sebastián. “This quantic sphere symbolizes the good relationship that exists between the people of my country and Texas, as well as the dreams and great achievements that through communication and education we are called to accomplish together.”

Counsel Prado had presented UTEP with the opportunity to receive the sculpture as a gift from the people of Mexico to commemorate the University’s Centennial.

“It is great news to learn that the work of Sebastián, one of Mexico’s most distinguished contemporary artists, will have such a prominent place at UTEP, an academic institution that since its inception has welcomed Mexican students,” said Counsel Prado. “This sculpture certainly will showcase a more current and accurate picture of today’s Mexico, an image that reflects a culture of ancient origins, but at the same time, alive, vibrant, rich and diverse in artistic and scientific expressions.”

Consul Prado has been UTEP’s engaged partner and participant in events on the campus since his arrival in El Paso in 2012. He served as a panelist during the Council of the Americas Border Conference on the U.S.-Mexico Competitiveness Agenda in August and has participated in numerous presentations and discussions concerning U.S.-Mexico border issues as well as arts and cultural programming. In addition, he recently presented UTEP with a check to support several students from Mexico through the Institute for Mexicans Abroad scholarship program.

“These IME Becas grants are exceptional in their significance,” President Natalicio said. “Not only do they provide much-needed financial support for our highly talented and highly deserving students, they also represent our sustained and fruitful international collaboration to improve the lives of residents on both sides of the border.”

There are 1,125 Mexican students enrolled this fall semester at UTEP. The University works collaboratively with the people of Mexico on several projects, including the Ventanilla de Salud health partnership to provide health-related resources to the Hispanic and Mexican communities in El Paso.

The “Esfera Cuántica Tlahtolli”sculpture will be completed and dedicated in 2014 as part of UTEP’s Centennial Celebration.

Veronique J. Masterson is UTEP's public information officer and may be contacted at 915-747-7503 or news@utep.edu.