Viajeras" (Travelers), an art exhibit to open this week in Chicago, tries to make a connection between the long southbound migrations of Monarch butterflies to their winter home in Mexico and the Mexican immigrants who travel to the United States to find work, and thereby survive.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Pintoras Mexicanas (Mexican Painters) collective, consists of 75 interpretations of Monarch butterflies.

"The exhibition (deals with) the issue of migration and is a project that artist Hector Duarte invited us to participate in some time ago," Alma Dominguez, the founder of Pintoras Mexicanas, told Efe.

Dominguez said that her group includes 260 painters living in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany and France. About a dozen of them live in Chicago and are among the 75 artists who are exhibiting their work.

Chicago is the first stop for the traveling exhibition that will next move to Mexico City and Mexico's Michoacan state.

Duarte, who was born in Caurio, Michoacán, said that at the end of the tour the 75 butterfly works of art will be exhibited on the streets of his birthplace, where he has created a mural.

The inspiration for the mural, he said, came to him when he noted that many people in his town, including him and his family, had abandoned it to settle elsewhere.

"The mural was to symbolize the people who leave Caurio and do not return," the artist said.

Of a prior population of between 2,500 and 3,000 people, the town currently has just 1,797 residents.

The artist himself left the town at an early age and arrived in Chicago in 1985, while his father and grandfather left much earlier under the Bracero program that brought Mexican guestworkers to the United States. 

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