Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Fierce Urgency of Now

It’s evening in Mexico City and I am on a mission. Since my first visit I’ve had many happy returns to Mexico. I’ve cherished the friendships with our board members from Mexico and the treasured friends I’ve come to love along the way.

I am the Director of an Asian Art Museum so you may ask, 

Why Mexico? Why now?

It took me a few years to figure this out, but this museum where I work, The Crow Collection of Asian Art is a place where yes, art is exhibited and visitors visit, but this museum is also a place where compassion happens everyday. 

We’re up to a lot more than art.

Back in August when I was here with a small business delegation hosted by the Mayors of Dallas / Fort Worth, Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings led one of the press conferences with the news of our then upcoming exhibition Clay Between Two Seas: From the Abbasid Courts to Puebla de los Angeles. He stated clearly and compassionately: “we are building bridges, not walls”.

A few hours later a reporter from Dallas called and asked me about his quote. I elaborated on the important work of creating new access points for understanding Mexico’s vital role in history: a convener of knowledge and innovations from across the globe. Asia has been in the dialogues of Mexico’s history for hundreds of years. And these stories, relayed by reporters in 2017 and printed in the same papers with declarations about a wall become more critical than ever.

Since our first exhibition exploring Asia in Mexico in 2002 (exquisite ivories commissioned from China for New Spain) our museum has been committed to the international story of Asia. Asia is not a place bound by borders: Asia is in the world and of the world: offering a vital provenance to world trade and international dialogues. Asia “happened” to the world because of open borders, access, entrepreneurial, curious and willing explorers.

I am a curious and willing explorer. And I am back in Mexico looking for Asia. Tomorrow we will celebrate the opening of Clay Between Two Seas with our partner museum the totally fabulous International Museum of the Baroque led by the incomparable Ambassador Jorge Alberto Lozoya.

We will celebrate, and I will begin a new exploration: for the next exhibition honoring Asia’s rich history in Mexico. Each person I meet this week, each collection I learn about, each image that is sent to me and each story that is shared is a bridge. A bridge representing compassion in action: sharing content and cultural histories IS compassion in action.


Tomorrow Ambassador Lozoya and I will begin a new story. And in a couple of years we will bring it back to Dallas: a vibrant international city with a beautiful population that is 42% Hispanic and home to over 350,000 Asian-Americans. 

And this new story becomes a story that belongs to everyone. And every person who visits this future exhibition I can’t even begin to imagine yet becomes a bridge to greater cultural understanding and more compassion in the world. And the time is now. 

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and postive action.”


Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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