Tagged ex-voto

Contemporary Hispanic market art La Conquistadora with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden by ©Cristina Acosta

La Conquistadora Retablo with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden

La Conquistadora is the country’s oldest Madonna renowned in New Mexico and other parts of the American Southwest.  Often called “Our Lady of Conquering Love”, La Conquistadora is the representation of the peaceful accord the Spanish settlers eventually reached with the Native American tribes in the region after decades of warfare. Today the statue is ensconced in the Cathedral of St. Frances in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

My ancestors were among the original Spanish colonists in the Southwest. When I was a child, my father created a grotto in our backyard featuring a Madonna, around which he planted corn. I visited the chapel in the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico and found a statue of La Conquistadora at the center of the altar in a niche surrounded with a mural of corn stalks. Inspired by that history, I’ve created the image of La Conquistadora on a retablo (traditional altar form) to include the symbols of the Native American counterparts:  The Pueblo Corn Maiden and the Deni Spider Woman.

The model is Cedar White, daughter of Kenneth White, member of the Deni tribe.

After my father died from Alzheimer’s Disease  I was looking for the vision for a retablo to honor both him and our ancestors. Within days of his funeral I took a trip with my family to the Southwest to visit the various townsites where our ancestors had lived. When I saw the Madonna at the altar of the Taos Pueblo church, I knew I had my vision. I’ve painted this retablo in honor of all of my ancestors and as a blessing for an ever-increasing peace between all peoples of the world.

Title:  La Conquistadora/The Corn Maiden/Deni Spider Woman

Medium:  Oil; 22kt gold, sterling silver and copper metal leaf; antique ceramic mosaic tile with 24k gold glazes; on vintage wood planks of Ponderosa Pine wood panel reclaimed from a 1904 wood mill forming a single panel.

Size:  42″ wide x 60″ tall

Year :  2005

Latin American Herald Tribune Features My Exhibit – Reshaping the Divine

Exhibit – Reshaping the Divine

Thank you to the Latin American Herald Tribune, for the interview and feature of my art exhibit, Reshaping the Divine – Contemporary Hispanic Retablos Exploring the Divine Feminine, on exhibit at the El Museo Cultural in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the Summer 2009.

I am very appreciative that my work is getting such positive attention. I’ve included an excerpt. You can READ MORE here.

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Chicana Artist Explores Heritage Through Retablo Paintings

By Lydia Gil

SANTA FE, New Mexico – Chicana artist Cristina Acosta has turned to sacred art as a means of exploring her religious and cultural heritage, incorporating aspects of her life, beliefs and family history into Madonna retablos.

“The tradition of the retablo (devotional image) reflects both the past and the present,” said the artist, whose works are now on display as part of an exhibit of contemporary retablos at this southwestern U.S. city’s El Museo Cultural.

The word “retablo” in Spanish dates back to the Renaissance and Baroque era and was used to refer to large screens that were placed behind altars in churches and were decorated with paintings, carvings, and sculptures.

These large altar screens then became prevalent in colonial Latin America as well, and by the 19th century oil-on-tin retablo paintings of Christ, the Virgin, and saints were commonly produced by amateur artists for devotional use in the home.

However, in parts of the southwestern United States, such as New Mexico and Colorado, retablos passed beyond the realm of sacred art into that of folklore.

Acosta said there are two types of retablos, one belonging to the tradition of Catholic saints and the other to that of “ex-votos,” or offerings of gratitude.

She says the first group is similar to the concept of icon painting in Byzantine art, in which the figures of saints or the Holy Family are painted in accordance with strict liturgical rules that define how the main figure should be portrayed.

“The counterpoint to that tradition is the ex-voto retablo, for which there are no rules but rather (the artist) creates a personal vision to give thanks for a blessing (received) or when a petition was heard,” she said.

It is within this folk tradition that her art is rooted.

Acosta said her retablos have served as a medium for meditating on her family heritage, her Latino identity and her role as a woman and an artist.

“My retablos are strictly related to my life, my Latina-Chicana cultural heritage in the southwestern U.S. and my personal opinions and life experiences,” she said.

Acosta, who now lives in Oregon, grew up in a Catholic family – the daughter of an Anglo-American mother and a Mexican-American father – in southern California. . . . READ MORE

Here are some links:
http://mx.news.yahoo.com/s/10072009/38/n-entertain-retablos-marianos-dominan-arte-chicana.html
or
http://www.impre.com/eldiariony/espectaculos/2009/7/11/retablos-dominan-el-arte-de-cr-134844-1.html

The article was picked up by the international service, so you may find it in Latin America and Spain as well.

Here it is in English translation:
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=338991&CategoryId=13003

Contemporary Hispanic market art La Conquistadora with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden by ©Cristina Acosta

Reshaping the Divine – Contemporary Hispanic Retablos Exploring the Sacred Feminine

This exhibit: Summer 2009.The artist statement describes the personal context of my art and about the intent behind these pieces.

Reshaping the Divine: Contemporary Hispanic Retablos Exploring the Sacred Feminine

Cristina Ortiz Acosta – Artist Statement 2009 – Exhibit at El Museo Cultural, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Over the past twenty years, my series of Madonna retablos came to me in ebbs and flows via a series of powerful dreams. The dreams started during my pregnancy with my daughter. For the entire pregnancy I dreamt of being a woman on a journey north across dusty plains and through arroyos as I mostly walked behind an oxcart. The dreams ended in a room lit by a wooden candelabra filled with tallow candles and the birth of my daughter, Isabella Pilar in 1993.

I called these dreams my Maria Dreams because in the dreams, I/she was named Maria. Seeking the meaning of those dreams over the years brought me down a path I could never have imagined and deepened my understanding of my cultural heritage. Searching for the meaning of my Maria Dreams eventually lead me back to New Mexico, the land of my Ortiz ancestors.

My paternal grandmother, Catalina Maria Ortiz Acosta, born in 1904, was the daughter of J. Nestor Ortiz and Maria Elena Salazar, descendants of the original Spanish settlers founding the cities and villages throughout New Mexico. Researching my family genealogy (my grandmother spoke vaguely about her ancestors), I discovered that my direct ancestors had participated in the initial 16th and 17th century migrations of the Spanish, traveling North from Mexico City into the region that is now the State of New Mexico. I read books about the era and became fascinated by the types of experiences my female ancestors must have had while living on the New Mexican frontier for generations. With this research nurturing my experience of my personal history, my calling to paint Madonna’s began to take shape.

Born in Los Angeles to an Anglo mother and Hispanic father, early on I was aware of cultural concepts because of the differences between the two sides of my family. Despite their differences, Catholicism was the central theme for my parents. Celebrating their devotion resulted in religious images from the Americas and Europe scattered throughout our home and those of our relatives. Images of Mary the Mother of God as the Guadalupe, Conquistadora and many other versions were always present. Along with those images were displayed American Indian items from the Ortiz ranch.

The artifacts from the Ortiz family ranch consumed my imagination from as far back as I can remember. Handmade Indian blankets and pots, and even a gold menorah (referred to as a “candelabra” by my grandmother) made by Ortiz ancestors generations past (some of the men were renowned filigree gold smiths). Those as well as the chili ristras hanging in my grandmother’s kitchen hinted at another world far from the Southern California beach scene of my childhood home. For reasons I can’t sufficiently articulate, the mix of these images and experiences coalesced into my calling to visually explore and create new images of the Madonna as an expression of the feminine divine.

Each of the retablos I paint results in a new vision of the sacred. For example, painting La Conquistadora opened the door to re-balancing the dominant patriarchal and European view of the divine with the North American native and feminine. In La Conquistadora I layer symbols of the Dine Spider woman and the Puebloan Corn Maiden, seeking to blend the indigenous ancient female images and concepts harmoniously with the Catholic image of Mary. The result is a Madonna that hints of ancient goddesses many thousands of years old at the same time she conveys the current blend of cultures in the Southwest.

I create my work in the traditions of the Spanish/Mexican retablo to reinforce my expression of reverence and convey the intimate experience of sacredness. I find antique, reclaimed timbers for the substrate. I mix gold, silver and copper metals into my oil paintings to both embellish the image and in homage to the gifts my ancestors created for me with their existence. The vintage gold glazed ceramic tiles come from a tile company that operated near my childhood home in Southern California during the 1950’s and 60’s. When I finish a retablo, I write a blessing on the backside of the retablo to convey love to all who view the images.

My Maria Dreams from over a decade ago continue to influence this series of work. May you find your own meanings and blessings within these images.

Running Mediation - The Feminine Divine Hispanic Meditation altar by ©Cristina Acosta

The Madonna in Meditation – Retablo Altar by Cristina Acosta

The Madonna sits in serenity as her soul gallops freely through time and space. Her winged-heart nurtures life. In her serene stillness she holds the spinning circles of life within her. She is the mother of us all: Eve, La Conquistadora,  La Guadalupe, Bodhisattva, Kuan Yin, Mary, La Senora, The Mother of God.. . .

I painted this meditation altar in the traditions of my New Mexican ancestors. Painted as an ex-voto retablo, it celebrates the blessings of meditation.

Title: Running Meditation

Size: 42″ x 60″

Year: 2008, 2010

Medium: Oil, 22kt. gold, sterling silver and copper metal leaf with antique 24kt gold glazed ceramic mosaic on wood panel. Wood panel is artisan made from reclaimed Ponderosa Pine planks taken from the 1904 circa mill buildings that were razed for redevelopment.