Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands is a feature-length documentary about Studio Rael San Fratello’s work to connect contemporary technology with the legacy of pottery making and adobe architecture in the southwest United States. On his ancestral land in southern Colorado, designer Ronald Rael along with his partner Virginia San Fratello 3D-print monumental structures out of mud, pushing the limits of technology and materials, while uncovering a dark history along the way. 

Join us for a virtual conversation and Q&A with film director Chris J. Gauthier; associate curator of Latino design Christina L. De León; and Studio Rael San Fratello founders, Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello.

Participants are encouraged to watch the film prior to the panel. The film will be available to watch free of charge starting at 9 a.m. ET, Nov. 17, through the virtual Architecture and Design Film Festival. Please note, a separate registration is required to view the film.


This free program will feature a moderated panel discussion followed by an audience Q&A hosted through Zoom, with the option to dial in as well. Details will be emailed to you upon registration. This program includes closed captioning. For general questions or if we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, please email us at or let us know when registering.

The documentary film was produced with support from the Latino Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. 

Smithsonian Affiliations is pleased to collaborate in sharing Mud Frontier with its 200+ Affiliate organizations across the US, Panama, and Puerto Rico. The themes of history, culture, design, and innovation are ones that resonate across the Affiliate network, and allow Affiliates to connect their own collections, exhibitions, and expertise to the film to foster conversations on these important topics with their communities.

Image: Photo courtesy of Rael San Fratello, by Micah Pegues