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