February 22, 2002

"Corridos sin Fronteras" A New World Ballad Tradition" Premieres in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution and the Chicano Studies Research Center of University of California, Los Angeles have created a music-based exhibition that celebrates the "corrido" (ballad) tradition in the United States and Mexico. "Corridos sin Fronteras: A New World Ballad Tradition" that opened on Feb. 14 at the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building and travel to 10 other venues over the course of three years.

The exhibition re-creates the historical development of the corrido in the New World over the past 200 years through vintage and modern recordings, broadsides, photographs, posters, musical instruments, and other treasured memorabilia. Corridos recordings will be heard throughout the exhibition, allowing visitors to embark on a musical and visual journey through stories sung in Mexican and U.S. communities. "Corri-dos sin Fronteras" (Ballads without Borders) explores the significance of this popular oral tradition as an expression of community life.

The corrido stories range in topic from the history of the Mexican Revolution, to a woman who shoots her lover because he is about to leave her, to a local hero who dies attempting to save a town. These ballads have survived centuries and will continue to be passed down to successive generations.

The exhibition contains 16 corridos in four core sound stations and three video stations, musical instruments, costumes, memorabilia, historical documents, photographs, a musical interactive unit and a map detailing the origins of the ballad tradition and the geographical settings of all corrido stories that the exhibition presents.

An interactive educational Web site has been developed by Interactive Knowledge Inc. The Web site includes audio, background information, and links for teachers' guides and resources. To get a preview of the educational site, which will be launched March 30, visit www.corridos.org.

The exhibition includes a sate-of-the-art portable sound system (wand) that provides corrido music of excellent sound quality to visitors.

"Corridos sin Fronteras" was organized by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC); the Smith-sonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES); and the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Fund.

Curator Guillermo E. Her-nández is director of the Chicano Studies Research Center and professor of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA. He is a scholar in corrido studies and has published, lectured, and edited publications in this field. Co-curator Isabel Castro-Meléndez, is a staff member at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center. (An initial small version of this exhibition was presented at UCLA's Fowler Museum of Cultural History).

Founded in 1969, the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, promotes the study and dissemination of knowledge on the experience of people of Mexican descent and other Latinos in the United States. The primary goal of CSRC is support of UCLA faculty research and training of the next generation of scholars in this area. Emphasis is given to supporting interdisciplinary and collaborative research, articulating issues critical to the development of Chicano and Latino communities in the United States, and establishing and maintaining relationships with other research institutions.

The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives was established in May 1997 to advance knowledge and understanding of Latino contributions to U.S. history, culture and society. The center accomplishes its mission by generating knowledge through research and scholarship, interpreting and communicating knowledge through exhibitions, public programs, online and electronic capabilities, and by building dialogue and relationships among U.S. Latino communities, the Smithsonian Institutions, and other educational and research organizations, foundations, corporations and government agencies.

Return to the Frontpage