Land of Milk & Honey was a traveling multidisciplinary arts and culture program that focused on concepts of agriculture in the regions of California and Mexico. Drawing inspiration from John Steinbeck’s portrayal of the region as a corrupted Eden, the exhibitions and programs questioned ethical, cultural, and regional practices related to foodways and the venture from seed to table. The biblical reference of a “land of milk and honey” first became associated with California as a tool for promoting the state as a land of opportunity; a destination for those in search of a better way of life – a terra firma that would provide sustenance and abundance. This boosterism also served as an ethos that fueled “Manifest Destiny” and resulted in land grabs, ecological destruction, and social injustices.

Iterations of Land of Milk & Honey occurred in locales in California and Baja and included Santa Cruz MAH, Best Practice Gallery, San Bernardino County Museum, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Arts and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum, Steppling Art Gallery at SDSU Imperial Valley, Planta Libre Espacio Experimental, casa la linea – arte contemporaneo, and IIC Museo UABC.

Click through the following for information on each iteration:

Land of Milk & Honey at the Borderlands/Steppling Art Gallery at SDSU Imperial Valley, Planta Libre Espacio Experimental, IIC Museo, and casa la linea – arte contemporaneo
October 13 – December 2, 2023

The final round of programming for Land of Milk & Honey takes place in the sister cities of Calexico and Mexicali and along the border wall. Special events including border activations, performances, and opening celebrations occurred the weekend of October 13 – 25, 2023. Click HERE for the full press kit.

Closing events included an artist discussion by Shinpei Takeda and Mino Kiyota. Kiyota also held a pop-up dinner at Haiku Japanese Restaurant in Mexicali.

Land of Milk & Honey / La tierra que mana leche y miel at the Cheech Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum
February 25 – May 28, 2023

Cheech Center
3581 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA 92501

This exhibition features artists’ views of multi-layered topics associated with agriculture including cultural relationships to food, associations with identity and place, and historical and political concerns. 

In conjunction with Land of Milk & Honey, an adjacent gallery presents “MexiCali Biennial: Art, Actions, Exchanges,” an exhibition of artworks and ephemera that chronicle the history of the MexiCali Biennial from 2006 to the present. READ MORE

MexiCali Biennial presents Handle with Care at the San Bernardino County Museum
Feb 4 – May 7, 2023

San Bernardino County Museum
2024 Orange Tree Lane
Redlands, CA 92374

The MexiCali Biennial is honored to introduce Fred Brashear as 2022/2023 Artist in Residence along with partnering institution the San Bernardino County Museum. Brashear’s research-driven project artistically explores topics of climate change, sustainability, and cultural history through the many uses of the Nopal cactus. Titled Handle with Care, the exhibition incorporates themes addressed in the biennial’s Land of Milk & Honey. The solo exhibition showcases the artist’s research through his travels to throughout Mexico, California, and the greater Southwest region of the United States. READ MORE.

UN/belonging in the Land of Milk & Honey at BEST PRACTICE GALLERY
March 11 – April 15, 2023

1955 Julian Ave, San Diego, CA 92113

This two-person show delves into ideas relating to land, place, and identity through representational images of landscapes. Ed Gomez and Luis G. Hernandez exhibit their works in relation to concepts in the MexiCali Biennial’s Land of Milk & Honey. This special exhibition is curated by art historian, scholar and independent curator Emmanuel Ortega. READ MORE.

Land of Milk & Honey / La tierra que mana leche y miel
September 1-December 31, 2022 / 1 de septiembre – 31 de diciembre, 2022
Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

705 Front St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

This inaugural exhibition at Santa Cruz MAH explores artists’ views around multi-layered topics associated with agriculture including environmental impacts, cultural culinary traditions, identity and migration, regional histographies, and familial and mythical connections to food. READ MORE.

Land of Milk & Honey Special Projects:

A joint research initiative by MexiCali Biennial team members and the Library of Congress, Hispanic Reading Room. Launched in 2020, with the aim to contextualize Border Arts by highlighting MexiCali Biennial themes and select artists works in relation to the library’s digital archives. This research can be accessed through the LoC and include:

“El Otro Lado” (The Other Side): Border Art Histories of the MexiCali Biennial and “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side): Geographies, Boundaries, and Imaginations of Space LibGuides and Land of Milk & Honey: California’s Agricultural Histories in Contemporary Art Story Map.

The MexiCali Biennial presents The Tamaleros, a celebration of tamaleros and street vendors. Join us with collaborators Revolution Carts and Brewjeria Company along with food vendors who will be serving regionally diverse styles of tamales. Enjoy music, activities and performances free to the public including a performance by VisRats Mobile (aka La Carcachita), a low-rider inspired golf cart by artist Ruben Ortiz Torres. This event is part of the MexiCali Biennial’s program, The Land of Milk and Honey, which aims to explore concepts related to agriculture and foodways within California and Mexico. The organization will be unveiling a cart by Revolution Carts and customized by renowned artist Ruben Ochoa for vendors Tamales el Primo in February 2023 at The Cheech Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum before becoming a working food vending cart. READ MORE

The MexiCali Biennial and the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum present Riverside Arts Walk activities including a performance by Rancho Shampoo and Indian Dub Orchestra. There will also be a paper making demonstration and activity led by artist Fred Brashear, Jr. The Riverside Artswalk is a monthly community event that celebrates the diversity of arts and culture in Riverside and the Inland Empire. Visit over 22 downtown locations, including museums, galleries and studios, presenting an eclectic mix of visual and performing arts. READ MORE

This symposium brought together three panels of artists, curators, and scholars to discuss past and present exhibitions. Each panel addressed broader issues and key themes defining contemporary art in both Californias over the last few decades, including biennials and art institutions, exhibition models, conceptualism, border activations, and colonial mythologies and the decolonial. This event was organized in conjunction with the exhibition MexiCali Biennial: Art, Actions, ExchangesREAD MORE

The three-part program includes screening trailers and features leading film scholars discussing Steinbeck film adaptations and his home movies. Following the film panel is a dedicated gallery tour by one of the curators of the 2022-2023 MexiCali Biennial exhibit Land of Milk & Honey. The day’s program culminates in an outdoor screening of Steinbeck films remixed to a live soundscape by DJs from both Texas and California. Organized by Borderless Cultures founders Emmanuel Ramos-Barajas and Annette M. Rodríguez. READ MORE

bracero playlist

This commissioned project relays the bracero experience as told through music spanning the early 1900s to today. The anthology was constructed through research, personal memories, and shared stories from family members, friends, and people the artist encountered. It’s music that farmworkers and laborers brought with them, cherish, grew up with, and listen to in their daily lives. Nostalgia, heartbreak, hope, humor, and resilience are interwoven throughout the narratives. READ MORE

land of milk & honey was made possible with support from the Mellon Foundation, and the California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support provided by a 2022 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Sustaining Public Engagement Grant,
supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) initiative.


The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum (Riverside, CA)

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (Santa Cruz, CA)

Library of Congress, Hispanic Reading Room (Washington, D.C)

California State University, San Bernardino Department of Arts and Letters (San Bernardino, CA)

Steppling Art Gallery at San Diego State University, Imperial Valley Campus (Calexico, CA)

NIH-ESTA (National Institutes of Health-Environmental Science through Art) (Monterey, CA)

Best Practice Gallery (San Diego)

Planta Libre Espacio Experimental (Mexicali)

IIC Museo (Mexicali)