National Hispanic Cultural Center

New National Hispanic Cultural Center exhibition offers a taste of tequila’s history, starting June 16

June 06, 2023

Stephen Hamway

Albuquerque, NM – The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) is thrilled to welcome a new exhibit on Friday, June 16 that explores and celebrates the landscape, culture, and traditions that gave birth to tequila! 

Aliento a Tequila y el Arte de Agave (or The Spirit of Tequila and the Art of Agave) delves into various aspects of the agave plant, a succulent with tremendous resonance in Mexico and across the American Southwest. This includes tracing the plant’s role in the production of tequila, the national drink of Mexico. 

“We are very excited to host this exhibit detailing the origins of the agave plant and its association with the land we inhabit,” said NHCC Interim Executive Director Zack Quintero. “What I love most about Aliento a Tequila y el Arte de Agave is that it allows us to follow the story of agave from land, people, culture, traditions, and economic development.” 

This detailed exhibition tells the story of agave through an alluring combination of photos that each showcase aspects of agave and tequila production, place, and labor. In the work showcased in Aliento a Tequila, photographer Joel Salcido highlights the original distilleries that literally founded the industry, as well as several artisanal tequileras committed to the ancestral ways of making tequila from harvest to bottle.   

These photos will be complemented by ceramics and paintings that reference the history and culture of the agave plant, along with its significance in Mesoamerica. These works are from the NHCC Art Museum’s Permanent Collection, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Folk Art Museum of Central Texas, alongside pieces from artists Hailey Marmolejo, Lydia Madrid, and Arnold Puentes. Together, these works showcase different aspects of agave, and will be on display from the NHCC Art Museum until Sunday, August 13. 

“This is a unique exhibition, bringing together a traveling exhibition with photography by Joel Salcido that celebrates the story of agave and tequila, but it also brings together a number of curated artworks highlighting the significance of the agave plant to Mexico and the Southwestern United States,” said NHCC Museum Curator Rebecca Gomez. 

Visit the Center for a free public reception celebrating the opening of the exhibition on Friday, June 16 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the NHCC’s Art Museum. An artist talk and book-signing from featuring the artist Joel Salcido will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Salón Ortega. Tickets for both events are available here. On August 10, join us at the NHCC for a free screening of the film, Agave is Life. Head to to learn more about upcoming events associated with the exhibition. 

Aliento a Tequila y el Arte de Agave is made possible by ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and The National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by the United Way DEI Fund. 

More about the National Hispanic Cultural Center The National Hispanic Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. The NHCC presents mission-related events throughout the year, some produced by its history, literary, performing, and visual arts programs, and others by partnering with external organizations. Events take place at its 20-plus-acre campus, which includes a plaza, an art museum, a historically designated building, a library, and a genealogy center. The NHCC is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is further supported by the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation. 

Related Photos

Joel Salcido- Aliento
Hailey Marmolejo- Agave
Hailey Marmolejo- Agave 2

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