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Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers

Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library

About the Collection


'Gold Bird', Columbian, investment showing casted goldThe Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers digital collection is part of the Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers physical collection, held by SMU's Bywaters Special Collections at the Hamon Arts Library.

The digital collection mainly comprises Series 6: Negatives/Slides, which consists of approximately 4,500 35-mm slides taken by Octavio Medellin (1907-1999), ca. 1950s-1980s. The images are separated into categories documenting Medellin’s art career. Included are slides of Medellin’s art work in progress and the processes he used in creating his sculpture primarily in stone, copper, and brass. Additional slides contain images of Medellin’s art installations in the Dallas area, including his mosaic work at Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, stain glass windows for the Trinity Lutheran Church, and glass ceiling lights in the Mercantile Bank Building. Other images are of his students and their work at the Medellin Art School, Medellin’s molten glass experiments, and his travels to Mexico where he studied both modern and historical architecture and relief carvings at ancient sites including Chichén Itzá, Palenque, and Tula.

Several related items are also available in the digital collection, including Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938, an album that contains 181 photographs of Medellin’s travels in 1938 in Mexico, his family, the ruins at Chichén Itzá, people associated with the ancient Mayan sites, and his art and travel friends David and Kayla Slivka, and Medellin’s portfolio of 11 block prints titled Xtol: Dance of the Ancient Mayan People; Murals from the Temple of the Tigers at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, which was influenced by his 1938 trip and published by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1947.

Bywaters' digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.   

Christ head, bronze

The Life and Work of Octavio Medellin

Octavio Medellin was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, in 1907 at a time when his country stood on the brink of a violent revolution. His family, of Otomi Indian heritage, moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1920 where the young Medellin began his art studies at the San Antonio Art Institute with José Arpa and Xavier Gonzales, Spanish artists who had relocated to San Antonio and established flourishing art careers. In 1928 Medellin left San Antonio and moved to Chicago where he studied at the Chicago Art Institute. A year later he returned to Mexico to begin a three-year study of his native country’s art, customs, and history – a period that proved to be a major influence in the young artist’s artistic evolution. He traveled throughout the Gulf Coast, including the Yucatan, and studied the local crafts produced in small villages and the ancient ruins and sculpture of the Mayan and Toltec Indians. Mexico’s unique artistic culture profoundly influenced Medellin’s art and that of the many students he taught over the next four decades.

In 1931, Medellin moved back to San Antonio and taught sculpture at the Witte Museum and a few years later, with several other local artists, opened La Villita Art Gallery. There he met Lucy Maverick, herself a young artist whose family was influential in the historic preservation of San Antonio during the late 19th/early 20th century. In 1938, interested in encouraging Medellin’s art development, Maverick sponsored the artist’s journey to Mexico for a six-month study of the ruins at Chichén Itzá and Uzmal. This trip is documented in the Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938 photograph album. Medellin’s sketches of the sites were later worked into the portfolio of 11 block prints, Xtol: Dance of the Ancient Mayan People; Murals from the Temple of the Tigers at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, published by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1947. Two of the original sketches are located in the Octavio Medellin Collection at SMU.

Artist's Reflections

“I believe that sincere art must be elemental and close to the earth – a symbol of the people. The trend of my art is toward the common people and everyday life, the kind of people and environment I myself come from. It is entirely away from politics and sophisticated ideas.”

Octavio Medellin, Americans 1942, 18 Artists from 9 States, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1942, p. 102

Monterrey, Mexico. Catholic church, ca. 1966

Medellin continued to teach while finding time to do his own work. He taught at North Texas State Teachers College [now the University of North Texas], Southern Methodist University, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts School. Throughout his career, Medellin explored other media including ceramics, mosaics, glass, lost-wax process in bronze casting – techniques he also taught to his students. In 1966 he opened the Medellin School of Sculpture in Dallas and continued to teach until semi-retirement in 1979 when he and his wife, Consuelo, moved to Bandera, Texas. Medellin’s work has been represented in exhibitions and museums through the years including the Dallas Museum of [Fine] Arts, the Witte Museum in San Antonio, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1996, the Dallas Visual Arts Center, now the Dallas Contemporary, honored Medellin, along with Dallas artist Barney Delabano and art collector Raymond Nasher, with the prestigious Legends Award.

Beginning in 1989, Medellin and his family began to donate his massive archival, art, and slide collection to Southern Methodist University. Now housed in Bywaters Special Collections, located in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library, the Octavio Medellin Collection consists of catalogues, clippings files, correspondence, fused glass experiments, photographs, slides, and works of art of paper that document his art career and his prominent role in the development of Texas art.

Holdings and Highlights

Much of digital collection comprises Series 6, Sub-series 6: Flat Slide Boxes: 1950s - circa 1980s and is designed to mirror the physical collection. It is divided into Flat Slide Boxes, which contain multiple groups. Below are links to the Flat Slide Boxes that have been digitized.

Below are links to images relating to specific pieces of art work, buildings, other art collections, people and events, and personal slides.

 Concrete and Ceramic Mosaic, Garden Piece, O. Medellin
Ceramics, Mosaics, and Works in Stone:

Break of Spring, Ceramic Ash Trays, Ceramic Bowls, Ceramic Pitchers, Christus Rex, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Crucifix, St. Henry's Church, Doe and Fawn, Ecce-Homo (Cast Stone), Ecce-Homo (Terracotta), Garden Figure for the Stekoll Petroleum Company, Garden of the Glorious Mysteries, Garden Piece Bowl, Garden Piece Dish, Holy Roller, Horse (Ceramic), Howling Dog, Mary, Mazantecutli, Lord of the Deer, Menorah, Temple Emanu-El, Mosaic Depicting People and Ancient Structures, Mosaic Murals, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, Mosaic Table, Onyx Carving, Patsy, Peruvian Wall Fountain, Plaster, Praetorian Mutual Life Mosaic, Primitive Dancer, Primitive Woman, Saint Francis Garden Piece, Sea Gull, Stations of the Cross, St. Henry's Church, Study for a Christ, Terracotta Garden Figure, Terracotta Lamps, The Dancer, The Family, The Penitents, The Spirit of the Revolution, The Struggle, Thinking Girl, Water Carrier, Wisberg Memorial, Woman and Dove

Works in Glass:

Baptismal Font, Bottom of the Sea, Christus Rex, Bishop Mason Retreat Center, Colored Glass Experiments, Easter Egg, Glass Door Entrance, Hanging Pix, Head of Christ (Stained Glass), Mercantile National Bank, Nuns Chapel, Bishop Lynch High School, Our Lady of the Throne of Wisdom, University of Texas at Austin Student Center, Priests Chapel, Bishop Lynch High School, Prismatic Forms, Reflections in Glass, River of Fire, Stations of the Cross, St. Paul the Apostle, Suspended Mosaic, St. Paul the Apostle, The Holy Spirit, St. Paul the Apostle, The Resurrection, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, The Sun and Firmament, First Unitarian Church of Dallas, The Trinity, Capilla del Colegio Mexico, Trinity Lutheran Church, Campanile Window, The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost

Works in Metal: ''Seated Figure'', detail, hammered lead. 1979

Bald Eagle, Candlesticks, Bishop Mason Retreat Center, Christ the King, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Christus Rex, Bishop Mason Retreat Center, Classic Profile, Ecce-Homo (Lead), Gold Bird, Golden Stallion, Hanging Pix, Head of Christ (Sculpture), Horse (Bronze), Horse Head, Landing Eagle, Landing Quetzal, Lazarus, Mad Moses, New City Hall, Proposed Garden Sculpture, Restoration, Saguaro, Saint Bernard Statue, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, Sculptureware, Seated Figure (Lead), The Adolescent, The Altar of the Angels, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, The Holy Spirit, St. Paul the Apostle

Works in Wood:

Carved Wood Figure, Conceived, Crucifix, St. Andrew's Catholic Church, Crucifix, St. Henry's Church, History of Mexico, Indian Woman, Joan of Arc, Moses (Wood), Old Man, Relief, Sergio, Tehuana, The Angel, The Bather, Uplifting Force, Woman in Despair

Art Studies and Experiments: Colored Glass Experiments, Forms of Nature

Photograph Albums and Published Works: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938, Xtol: Dance of the Ancient Mayan People

Medellin Family Residences and Studios:  Bandera Home, Bandera Studio, Daingerfield Home, Dallas Studio, Grand Prairie Studio, Home in Piste, Mexico, San Antonio Studio

Travels Within the United States: Mendocino Art Center Seminar, New Orleans, Toledo Museum of Art Glass Seminar, United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, Vermont Marble Company Sculpture Seminar

Travels Abroad:

Travels to Mexico:

New Orleans, Chichen Itza, Dzibilchaltun, El Tajin, Izamal, Convento de San Antonio de Padua, Templo de la Purisima Concepcion, Kabah, La Venta, Matehuala, Merida, Mexico City, Museum of Modern Art (Mexico City), Plaza de las Tres Culturas, Monte Alban, Monterrey, Glassblowers in Monterrey, Palenque, Piste, Progreso, Puebla, Pueblo Viejo, San Juan Teotihuacan, San Luis Potosi, San Miguel de Allende, Tampico, Tamuin, Tenayuca, Teopanzolco, Tula, Uxmal, Villahermosa, Xalapa, Xochicalco

Travels to Guatemala: Antigua Guatemala, Chichicastenango, Kaminaljuyu, Museo Nacional, Guatemala City, Panajanchel, Quirigua, Santiago Atitlan

Work with Art Schools and Non-Profit Art Organizations: Arts Activities Inc., Dallas Museum of Fine Arts School, Medellin School of Sculpture

 Dottie Coggeshall, Hollow Clay, Dallas Museum School, Dallas, 1966Works by Students: Dolphin, Girl’s Head, Madonna, Untitled Cline Sculpture, Untitled Coleman Bust, Untitled Foster Sculpture, Untitled Graham Sculpture, Untitled Hickman Sculpture

Works by Other Artists:  German Stained Glass, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, HemisFair, Bellerophon Taming Pegasus, Migration, Little Girl from Mars, Stained Glass, Cooke County Public Library, Temple Emanu-El: Ark Door, Chapel Ark - Gold Mosaic, Everlasting Light, Metal Menorah, Texas Turnpike Authority Mural, Three Men Walking II

Art Museums, Exhibits, and Private Collections: Amon Carter Museum, Barney Delabano Collection, Bromberg Art Collection, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, E. Teal Collection, Evelyn Baldwin Collection, Frank Paxton Collection, HemisFair, Jerry Bywaters Collection, John Wisenbaker Collection, Lucy Maverick Collection, Meadows Museum, Museum of Modern Art (Mexico City), Neiman Marcus Art Collection, NorthPark Center Exhibit, July 1969, Octavio Medellin Personal Art Collection, Roy Cookstone Collection, Stanley Marcus Art Collection, Ted Davis Collection, Tom Petley Collection, Waldo Stewart Collection, Witt Blair Collection

Archeological Sites and Cultural Artifacts: Asian Artwork: Bromberg Art CollectionArtwork of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: Maps from Indian Art of Mexico and Central America by Miguel Covarrubias, Pre-Columbian Urn - Part of the Stanley Marcus Art Collection

Archeological Sites in Mexico:
Xtol: Dance of the Ancient Mayan People, [Plate VII] Chichen Itza, Akab Dzib, Casa del Venado - House of the Deer, Chac Mool (Chichen Itza), El Caracol - The Observatory, El Castillo - Temple of Kukulcan, Grand Ballcourt, Platform of the Eagles and the Jaguars, Temple of the Bearded Man, Temple of the Fish, Temple of the Jaguar, Temple of the Nuns, Temple of the Tablets, Temple of the Three Lintels, Temple of the Warriors, Tzompantli - Platform of the Skulls, Dzibilchaltun, Cenote Xlacah, Temple of The Seven Dolls, El Tajin, North Ballcourt, Pyramid of the Niches, South Ballcourt, Stela of the God Tajin, Tajin Chico, Building C, Kabah, Arch of Kabah, Codz Poop - Palace of the Masks, La Venta, Altar 3 - Dialogue Altar, Altar 4 - Triumphal Altar, Altar 5 - Altar of the Children, Altar 6 - Quadrangular Altar, Basalt Olmec Tomb, Olmec Colossal Head No. 1 (La Venta), Olmec Colossal Head No. 2 (La Venta), Olmec Colossal Head No. 3 (La Venta), Olmec Colossal Head No. 4 (La Venta), Del Hombre Barbado - The Bearded Man, Jaguar Altar, Jaguar Child, La Abuela - The Grandmother, Monkey Looking at the Sky, Monument 6 - Sandstone Sarcophagus, Monument 13 - The Ambassador, Monument 63 - Shark with Figure, Stela of the Serpent Deity, Stela of the King (La Venta), Stela of a Young Goddess, The Contortionist (Sculpture), Whale, Mexico City, Monolito a Tlaloc - Tlaloc Rain God Statue, Monte Alban, Central Court, Court of the Danzantes - Dancers Court, Southern Platform­, Palenque, El Palacio - The Palace, Grupo Norte - Northern Group, Oval Palace Tablet, Tablero de los Esclavos - Panel of the Slaves, Tablet of the Scribe, Temple XII - Temple of the Skull, Temple XIII - Tomb of the Red Queen, Templo de la Cruz - Temple of the Cross, Templo de la Cruz Foliada - Temple of the Foliated Cross, Templo de las Inscripciones - Temple of the Inscriptions, Templo del Conde - Temple of the Count, Templo del Sol - Temple of the Sun, Pueblo Viejo, Museo Regional de Geologia, San Juan Teotihuacan, Pyramid of the Moon Complex, Temple of Quetzalcoatl, Tamuin, Huastec Adolescent, Tamohi Altar Murals, Tamohi RuinsTenayuca, Coatepantli - Wall of Serpents (Tenayuca), Pyramid of Tenayuca, Teopanzolco, Building 1 - The Great Platform, Building 9 - Shrine to Ehecatl, Tula, Ballcourt (Tula), Building C - The Burnt Palace, Chac Mool (Tula), Coatepantli - Wall of Serpents (Tula), Pyramid B - Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, Pyramid C, Telamons of Tula, Uxmal, Casa de las Palomas - House of the Doves, Casa de las Tortugas - House of the Turtles, Casa del Gobernador - Governor's Palace, Cuadrangulo de las Monjas - Nunnery Quadrangle, Jaguar Throne, Piramide del Adivino - Pyramid of the Magician, Villahermosa, Headless and Armless Figure, Mayan Stela, Monument 1 - Stela from Tortugero, Monument 11 - Upward Looking Were-Jaguar Figure, Olmec Colossal Head No. 2 (La Venta), Seated Were-Jaguar Figure, Seated Were-Jaguar Warrior Figure, Stela of the King of the Mayan City of Palenque, Stone Figurine, The Contortionist (Stela), Xalapa, Dos Lagarto - Two Lizards, Escultura Masculina - Male Sculpture, Figura Femenina - Female Figure, Mascara de Sayula - Mask of Sayula, Olmec Colossal Head No. 1 (San Lorenzo), Olmec Colossal Head No. 3 (San Lorenzo), Olmec Colossal Head No. 4 (San Lorenzo), Olmec Colossal Head No. 5 (San Lorenzo), Personaje con Mascara Bucal - Person with Mouth Mask, Seated Figure of Quetzalcoatl, Throne of Chaneques, Xochicalco, Temple of the Feathered Serpent

Archeological Sites in Guatamala: Chichicastenango, Kaminaljuyu, Museo Nacional, Guatemala City, Quirigua, Monument 1 - Stela A, Monument 3 - Stela C, Monument 4 - Stela D, Monument 5 - Stela E, Monument 6 - Stela F, Monument 8 - Stela H, Monument 9 - Stela I, Monument 10 - Stella J, Monument 14 - Altar N, Zoomorph B, Zoomorph G - The Frog, Zoomorph M, Zoomorph P - The Great Turtle Altar

Related Collections

Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers is one of a growing number of unique digital collections related to Texas art and history that are available through SMU's CUL Digital Collections.

Untitled linocut, 1975, by Octavio Medellin

CUL Digital Collections contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.

Related  SMU collections include

Digital Collections Guidelines and Procedures

Items in Central University Library Digital Collections are digitized following the SMU Central University Libraries Digitization Guidelines and Procedures. Digital collections are created under the guidelines of the CUL Digital Collections: Filenaming, Workflow, and Metadata Guidelines, or through specialized metadata profiles tailored for the collection.


Copyright usage terms vary throughout the collection. Each item contains information about usage terms. If SMU does not have the right to publish the item on the Internet, only the item's metadata will be available and the digitized object will be available on a restricted access basis. Such items may only be viewed on campus. When items are available for use, please cite Bywaters Special Collections, Southern Methodist University when using this file. For more information contact

Contact Info

For more information about the collection, please contact