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Alma de "Madre Americana"

Madre Americana (2022), whose printmaking technique is etching with aquatint on metal plate and measures 22" x 15", was a piece I made primarily for the Nexo Entre Raíces portfolio, which has been part of two exhibitions so far in the United States.

The Nexo Entre Raíces exhibition is being managed by artist Marco Sánchez and multidisciplinary scholar Claudia Ley in collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum of Art. Eight Mexican and eight American printmakers are participating. The theme revolves around the syncretism that exists between the culture of Mexicans who migrate to the United States and those who were born there and have Mexican ancestry. Each artist created a work based on his or her perception of this phenomenon. The artists had creative freedom, which was very important to see represented in this portfolio several perspectives on the same point, which makes it very interesting and full of richness. In my case, I must say that this is the first time I have made an image with a focus on Chicano culture, which is where I got the most support to do it.

Within Chicano art we can find that the figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe has a strong presence, one of those who manage to break the border. In addition, it is widely represented from tattoos to graffiti. Many Mexican artists who live or lived there used the Virgin of Guadalupe as a means of expression and that is why I chose her.

However, this Virgin has several symbolisms. Starting with the mantle, which is covered by the shapes and patterns of the traditional paliacate, it symbolizes the Mexicans who live there and is a fundamental element of the Cholo culture. In the center, I placed the same stars that the mantle of the Virgin of Guadalupe has. In the background, we can see the pattern that the original Virgin has, the Castilian flower. Alluding to its Mexican origin, I placed the corn in its glow, which is a symbol that I work on a lot, since it is part of the fundamental gastronomy of the Mexican being. I think the presence of corn is important, because as soon as people see it, they immediately know that it is related to Mexico, besides the fact that it represents me because I love to eat it!

Then, on the face I went back to representing native motifs, taking up the aesthetics of pre-Hispanic ceramics. For example, the shape of the earflaps and the look, which are the hallmark of my style. In the heart there is a wire covered with thorns, evoking the border fence, whose function is to support it, to protect it, but also reminds us that it is an oppressed heart, since our human taste for delimiting territories has caused many families to be separated and have many difficulties to be reunited.

A little further down we see her arms and hands, which are not in the form of prayer, but of union, because one of the symbolisms of the Guadalupana is that of the mother who is always procreating and uniting families. For this same reason, on the left arm, which in my worldview represents the feminine side, she has a tattoo that says Familia, for which I chose that typography since it is used a lot in Chicano tattoos.

Under the hands we can find Coatlicue, who was the precursor deity of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She represents for me the beginning of the transition from being Mesoamericans to being part of the new culture that is being formed. I represented her surrounded by nopales and I placed underneath her the U.S. and Mexican territory together. I decided to make the direct reference to this theme since the United States is our largest neighbor and the influence we have back and forth is very strong.

Finally, at the foot of the Virgin there are two characters: The Snake Woman and The Eagle Man, who symbolize the National Coat of Arms of Mexico; but instead of fighting, they are looking towards a candle that shines from the south of the territory, alluding to the families that are waiting for the migrants to arrive safely. The candle is a symbol of hope, of prayer, of asking for a miracle. That is why it is in the middle. Instead of the National Coat of Arms fighting, it is in union waiting for the miracle.

Redacción: Carla Aguilar Cervantes

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