'After the War' with Xavier Tavera - Lecturer and MFA ('17)
When Xavier Tavera (M.F.A. ‘17) moved to the Twin Cities in 1996 from Mexico City, he swapped a future law career for life as a photographer. But he also underwent an even more profound personal transition.
“In Mexico, I’m nothing,” he says, referring to the fact that he can’t easily be labeled in a society where so many of his fellow citizens look like him and speak his native tongue. “But here, I’m Mexican and an immigrant and a person of color.” Understanding how that experience has impacted his fellow Latinos and their Minnesota subcultures has become a guiding force for his work.
His most recent show, “AMVETS Post #5,” which is at the Minnesota History Center through April, includes 35 portraits of Mexican and Mexican-American military veterans who have returned home to St. Paul’s West Side from the battlefields of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Many of Tavera’s subjects enlisted in order to become U.S. citizens, only to see their rights undercut when they returned home. Some felt abandoned by the country they fought to protect.