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Prints, 21st Century

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Virgen Indigena

21st Century
17 5/8 x 14 1/2 in. (44.8 x 36.8 cm)

Santa C. Barraza, American, b. 1951

Object Type: PRINTS
Creation Place: North America
Medium and Support: Lithograph with Hand Coloring and metal embellishment
Credit Line: Purchased with the Benjamin D. Bernstein Acquisition Fund
Accession Number: 16-G-3749

Label from Border Crossings: Immigration in Contemporary Prints, La Salle University Art Museum, March 16 - June 9, 2016:

Utilizing the Ameridian formats of the heritage of my antepadres and antemadres, I empower and identify myself by visually reconstructing the vernacular existence of my matriarchal ancestors, mythological goddesses, and contemporary female leaders, drawing from archetypes of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Malinche, and la Llorona/Weeping Woman (Cihuateteo), and Adelitas.

This print displays my interpretation of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who appeared to Juan Diego at Tepeyac Hill in 1531, apparently in the same location of a previous apparition of the Aztec mother goddess, Tonantzin. The original image of the Virgin was rendered with an iconography completely understood by Mesoamericans. She wore the sash of pregnancy, while standing in front of a penetrating light, symbolic of the Aztec sun god Tonatiuh. Even though this event happened almost five centuries ago, the Virgin of Guadalupe is very much a contemporary issue, a manifestation of the modern embodiment of the mestizaje, hybridization.

In my interpretation, the young native woman with opened eyes confronts the viewer, with a white dove flying out of her exposed heart. The dove signifies the Holy Spirit, or the power of the Aztec creator, Teotl. The exposed heart is suggestive of the sacrificed hearts worn as a necklace by the indigenous earth goddess, Coatlicue. The Virgin wears a pink dress with designs indicative of the pictographs of the ancient Mexican codices. The design represents mountains which in Mesoamerican culture were associated with sacred caves, believed to be the birthplaces of the sun, moon, gods, goddesses and human beings. In the Virgin’s eyes are reflective images of the three witnesses present when Juan Diego opened his shawl to reveal the miraculous image of the Virgin. In my rendition, the Virgin wears her hair in braids like an indigenous young woman, rather than in her usual long hair style. She also wears a turquoise veil covering her head and shoulders. Instead of the stars displayed on the Virgin of Guadalupe’s veil, this image has indigenous symbols of the eye of God, water, movement, and pregnancy. The two colors of pink and turquoise of the dress and veil are the sacred colors of ancient Mexico.

— Santa C. Barraza

Current Location: In Storage


Border Crossings: Immigration in Contemporary Prints, Curated by Klare Scarborough, La Salle University Art Museum, March 16 - June 9, 2016.


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