Tagged La Conquistadora

Contemporary Hispanic art Guadalupe by Cristina Acosta

Contemporary Hispanic Spiritual Religious Art

Contemporary Hispanic retablos are altars that celebrate the North American madonnas of La Conquistadora and the Guadalupe and others that Cristina creates with precious metals, beeswax, oil paint and 22kt gold glazed antique ceramic mosaic on antique wood panels.

Retablos range from 18″ tall to over 52″ tall.

Artist Statement:This religious art is my expression of spirit, ancestral family and of my faith in creation. Raised within the traditions of Catholicism, I’ve created these retablos (altars) to explore the archetypal sacred feminine in the form of the Marion figures that blend the European image of Mary with the Native American Indigenous female creations figures. I do this by presenting the traditional madonnas of La Conquistadora and La Guadalupe with American Indian symbols. As I am a blend of Spanish, Native American and Anglo, creating Marian figures that represent this blend of cultures naturally flows from me. I’ve been making altars for over 30 years and consider them a visual rendition of my spiritual practice. When I paint them, I meditate on aspects of the divine and let the image change and flow as my inspiration moves my hands.

These contemporary Hispanic retablos are part of the traditional lineage of all of my ancestors. Because I work from traditions rather than repeat them exactly, these retablos fit into a concept that is the New Mexican Spanish tradition of the ex-voto. An ex-voto is a tradition of creating an image to commemorate life’s blessing with an altar sharing the blessing. My expression of the divine feminine is my way to express my gratitude for the blessings of life.

La Conquistadora with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden by ©Cristina Acosta
La Conquistadora with Dine Spider Woman and Puebloan Corn Maiden by ©Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe with Crown - The World is Her Heart
Running Mediation - The Feminine Divine by ©Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe with a Tear by ©Cristina Acosta
Our Lady of Czestochowa by ©Cristina Acosta
Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta by ©Cristina Acosta
La Sirena Azul The Blue Mermaid by ©Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe by Cristina Acosta
Guadalupe with Child by ©Cristina Acosta
La Sirena Verde The Green Mermaid by ©Cristina Acosta
Eve and the Tree of Knowledge by ©Cristina Acosta
Conquistadora at the Center of the Universe by ©Cristina Acosta
Our Lady of the Winter Snows by ©Cristina Acosta



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

La Conquistadora New Book by Amy Remensnyder Features Acosta’s Retablo of La Conquistadora – Dine Spider Woman – Puebloan Corn Maiden

Passion for the subject of the Virgin Mary as La Conquistadora supported by scholarly discipline and historical clarity makes Amy G. Remensnyder’s new book, La Conquistadora – The Virgin Mary at War and Peace in the Old and New Worlds, the current masterpiece and go-to book on the subject of La Conquistadora, New Mexico’s patroness and the oldest Marian figure in the United States.

Here’s an excerpt from Remensnyder’s Introduction:

La Conquistadora by Amy Remensnyder book
La Conquistadora by Amy Remensnyder book with Cristina Acosta image of Conquistadora

“This exploration of the passions that Mary aroused centuries ago is written in the hopes that modern historian, as well as people of other faiths or of no faith, might better understand historical circumstances in which people of diverse cultures and religions lived in proximity It asks how the language of the sacred could both underscore potential differences between people and help to smooth out those very differences. While the answers of men and women of the past bear the stamp of their times and places, there is much to be learned from their successes and failures, for these same questions starkly face our own world.”

I came in contact with Amy Remensnyder when she researching her La Conquistadora book. She had found my retablo titled, La Conquistadora / Dine Spider Woman / Puebloan Corn Maiden and contacted me regarding my inspiration and intent creating the image. The image is on page 367 of her book, La Conquistadora – The Virgin Mary at War and Peace in the Old and New Worlds. 

Remensnyder also included selected passages of our interview. Here’s an excerpt:

“…..For a bold contemporary artist like Acosta, she offers a space for thinking about genealogical mestizaje. 

Acosta explains that her own ancestors “were among the original Spanish colonist in the Southwest.” She even grew up hearing her grandmother “continually claim to be pure Spanish.” But Acosta confesses that she has come to regard her grandmother’s words with skepticism. She describes something that she says her grandmother new well: her grandmother’s sone – Acosta’s own father  ‘ “made Indian regalia” and would dance the  “old dances.” It was in memory of her father, a man who danced in Indian dress yet was the son of a woman who boasted undiluted Spanish blood, that Acosta created her Conquistadora…..”

There is more. During the ensuing time since our interview, family members did DNA tests and confirmed: my grandmother was half American Indian. I feel like that intuitive knowledge informed all of my life. My conviction at the age of 5 that I was an Indian (I was just sure of it) was finally confirmed. But I did not paint my image of La Conquistadora from confirmed facts and historical accuracy, I painted her from my intuitive self and my sense that this Marian figure needs to have an image of her created that melds the American Indian female sacred figures with the Spanish (European) Marian figure into a vision of parity. That parity that I feel in my blood regardless of the “blood quantum” restrictions and perceptions that are used to justify behavior.

I highly recommend this book, it is wonderful:

La Conquistadora – the Virgin Mary at War and Peace in the Old and New Worlds, by Amy G. Remensnyder, Oxford University Press, ©2014, ISBN 978-0-19-989298-3,  978-0-19-989300-3


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.

EFE News Services (US) Inc. www.efe.com
Spain’s International News Agency- Agencia EFE is the leading newswire service in Latin America and Spain. Everyday, directly or indirectly, millions of individuals are brought up to date on what is happening in the world by EFE. Of its total 3.600 media subscribers, 531 are
located in South America, 110 in Mexico, 62 in the Caribbean, 78 in Central America, 150 in the USA and others in Spain, Europe, Africa, The Middle East and Asia.

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:

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: