Ilan Stavans: Jorge Luis Borges, in his book El hacedor (1960), offers this par-
able: “A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples
a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, bays, ships, islands, fishes,
rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he
dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments
of his own face.” Art is the face we give to our emotions, the map of our
identity. That map isn’t always easy to survey.
The vortex of these conversations is the nature of human expression.
The conversations delve deeply into the cultural lens through which people
understand themselves, in particular in the context of Hispanic civiliza-
tion (from the Patagonia to the U.S.- Mexico border), where looks are con-
nected with authenticity. These conversations are born at the crossroads
where art and thought meet. Each of them uses as springboard a visual
piece (a painting, a photograph, an installation, etc.) produced by a Latino
artist in the United States. I say Latino and not Hispanic. I am a veteran of
the culture wars. There is no reason to rehash well- worn arguments. For
our purposes, I use Latino to mean a person of Hispanic descent (from
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