One of my life goals is to see as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I possibly can and Mexico is home to the most in the Americas and seventh in the world. You can see a full list of their sites here, which surpasses both the United States of America and the UK if you were curious. Hospicio Cabañas marks my third World Heritage Site in Mexico, having already seen the jaw dropping pre-Hispanic city of Chichen-Itza in the Yucatán and the Historic Centre of Mexico City in DF. Both which are experiences I will never forget. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I saw Hospicio Cabañas (or Las Cabañas) on our Don Julio itinerary, as seeing José Clemente Orozco's mural's were imperative while in Guadalajara, and this is where his most famed are celebrated.
Although I briefly studied and created fine art before focusing on my undergraduate work in Women's Studies, it wasn't until 2016 when I dated a painter who really put me on to Orozco. I was familiar with the name but never had the opportunity to study the artist, another reflection of how Mexican geniuses are often excluded from the academic art canon. There are few positive things I can say about this painter I once called my boo but he did have an extensive collection of art books, of which I read often. One day when telling me of his past residency in Guadalajara, he began piling book after book in front of me, almost all of them focusing on the history and talents of José Clemente Orozco. I was blown away by his work while simultaneously disappointed no one ever pulled me aside and said, you should really know about this Natalie. It was at that moment I decided I needed to see much of Orozco I possibly could, but most importantly his frescoe depicting the allegory of The Man on Fire, located at Hospicio Cabañas.
Here I was at Las Cabañas, living my best life as a Mexican American woman in Mexico. While on our tour of the property with one of the coolest docents I have ever met–he was 60+ and continually referenced Heavy Metal bands–I found myself standing under Orozco's mural with tears in my eyes. The Man on Fire was magnificent and of monumental proportions; it moved me in a way few others have done before. It was something I wanted to stare at for hours but we had a full day ahead of us. Orozco's fresco simply could not be summarized by adjectives. You must experience it with your own eyes. This epic mural should be taught and appreciated in schools much like Michelangelo's work at The Sistine Chapel; it's a masterpiece.
Hospicio Cabañas | Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico