Tagged Latina art

Contemporary Hispanic art Conquistadora with Corn Corazon

La Conquistadora in Prayer. Ex-voto Retablo by Cristina Acosta

La Conquistadora, the country’s oldest Madonna is shown here with her hands in prayer posture cradling her heart of corn. A 22kt. gold leaf crown adorns her head. She watches over the high sun, moon and lands below. Floral patterns embellish the sky. Her body is a rock wall of gold glazed mosaic that stretches across the horizon and drops down a flower to the earth. Her blessings rain down upon us.

Title: Corn Corazon (Heart) Conquistadora

Size: 18″ x 24″

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 and formed by an artisan wood worker into a single panel.

Date: 2006


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:

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:

Antique Guadalupe Shrine with Painting by Cristina Acosta

Antique Guadalupe Shrine and the December 12th Feast of the Guadalupe

Sometimes things happen that seem so mysteriously destined that I’m amazed at the richness of this universe. About 4 or 5 years ago a man called my business number and asked if I had any interior design need for furnishings. He was a semi-retired fine carpenter and furniture maker and was looking for new business contacts.

When he told me he was in Albany, Oregon a city in the Willamette Valley about 2 1/2 hours from my home in Bend, Oregon. I was curious as to why he would call someone out of his geographic area. When I asked him, he said that he had just started experimenting with calling people and that I was the first Hispanic name he saw under theDesigner category in the phone book. As he was Chicano (Mexican-American) he said he hoped I would be nice because my name was Spanish. (My late father was Mexican-American or Chicano, hence my Spanish name.)

Once he told me he was practicing his business skills on me, we both relaxed and chatted a bit, talking about what it was like to be one of the very few Mexican-Americans (Chicanos) in Oregon during the 1980’s. I told him about my series of retablo paintings of Madonnas that I was working on.

He then told me that he had something he needed to get rid of before he retired, and that I might be the perfect person for it. He said that he had a Catholic Church confessional from a church that had been closed. Though he was vague as to how he came by the piece, he’d had it for over 30 years and asked if I would like to buy it. Without photos I said no, though it sounded interesting. After our conversation I sent him a postcard of one of my retablos, La Conquistadora / the Corn Maiden / Dine Spider Woman.

The next month and for about 6 months afterward, the man would check in with me to see if I’d like to buy his confessional. I never saw a photo and always said no.

Then one Saturday morning he was parked at my studio in a work van with a friend. I was stunned that he had driven over 2 hours over a mountain pass and hadn’t called to even see if I would be there. My husband, Randall had been at work (at that time our work spaces were in the same building) early to catch up on things and met the man when he knocked on my husband’s door to ask if he knew where I was.

I drove up to the studio building to see Randall standing at the back of the man’s open van and signaling me the absolutely-no-way hand signals in tandem with the what-in-the-heck-is-going-on eyebrow raise.

Stepping behind the van I looked in to see the “confessional” and was struck with amazement. The sections of cabinetry and plastic ziploc bag of “extra parts” looked like nothing but scraps of old wood and a lot of work to my husband, but I could see that what I was looking at was an altar.

That was it — I really wanted that pile of cabinetry. The man and I went back and forth on a price and I bought the cabinet. Randall was totally against the idea, but as it wasn’t a “affecting both of us for life” type of decision, I bought it anyway. Fortunately, Randall is a lovely guy who happens to be handsome, handy and dotes on me — so, he put the cabinet together despite his initial dismay with my decision to buy the cabinet.

I was so filled with amazement at the synchronicity and magical quality of life. I cleaned the pieces of wood with Citrus thinner and Randall put the puzzle of pieces together until it was a complete shrine. I asked everyone I thought might know, if they knew anything about the cabinet. Nobody did, but I felt that it was a shrine for the Guadalupe. So, I had my artisan woodworker friend, Terry Scoville, make me 2 wood panels to fit the “holes” left in the cabinet after someone had removed something years ago.

I painted an image of the Guadalupe with Child in oils, 22kt. gold leaf, wax and antique ceramic mosaic to suit the intimate space of the shrine along with a thin horizontal insert. Randall installed them. It is beautiful and we get so much pleasure from viewing the shrine. The shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe is my constant reminder of the strange and often ironic, abundant beauty of life.

A couple of years later, while traveling in Taxco, Mexico I saw identical woodwork on 2 confessional chairs in the Cathedral at the top of the hill and knew that the shrine had “found” me. The man from Albany, Oregon had indeed found the “right” home for what he thought was a confessional, but in reality was a Shrine to the Guadalupe.

In Mexico, the top part of the cabinet (with the portrait of the Guadalupe) is removed from the stand (or bottom section) and is carried at the head of a procession on Dec. 12th. Sometimes the curtain is across her image during part of the procession, other times not — it depends upon the local traditions. During the rest of the year, the top part sits on the cabinet in a church.

I often light candles I put in the cabinet, or just turn on a light to enjoy it. My friend, Mimi Graves brought me a ristra of local grown red chilies which dried while hanging from the cabinet door. Here’s some info about the festival.

Catholic traditions include Feast Days which are specially designated days for a Saint or Holy Person. December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In Mexico, this feast is one of the holiest days of the year. Though the concept is not sanctioned by the Catholic Church, some people consider the Guadalupe to be the Christian version of the Aztec Mother Earth goddess Tonantzin. The Our Lady of Guadalupe festival is much more of a tradition in Mexico than in the U.S., though in areas with a lot of Hispanics there are often processions to celebrate the day. Images of Our Lady of Guadalupe are often considered Chicano art, Catholic religious art or Hispanic art — To hispanics of Mexican-American ancestory, the image of the Guadalupe is a symbol that goes beyond religious affiliations to become an icon of identity.

I was raised very Catholic and consider myself  Latina. Despite the spiritually seismic shifts I’ve experienced that re-shaped my beliefs, I love to paint Madonnas and think of them as expressions of the Divine Feminine.

Cristina Acosta Signature Ceramic Tile install

Cristina Acosta Artist’s Ceramic Tile and Pottery Tableware

“Joyful spirit and Colorful composition.”

                            Better Homes & Gardens, Home Products Guide, Fall/Winter 1994

The year 1994 was the year that I saw my first work of art (my hand painted ceramic tile mural) on a magazine cover . Albeit, it was only about two or three

Cristina Acosta tableware series
Cristina Acosta tableware series c tableware grouping.

square inches, nonetheless, it was enough to send me all over town buying every copy of the magazine I could find, sending them to my friends & relatives. I was sure I was going to be famous (and rich)!
Though I have yet to walk down any red carpet, I was to learn that though I was on the road to success, for me the road is more often a maze than a straight shot to the Emerald City. And, I was surprised to find that (as I matured) my inner picture and description of “success” kept changing too.

All these years later, I’ve discovered that my calling to be an artist is a rich and complex gift.
I began creating ceramic tiles in 1991. I had just finished a two-year stint as a lettering and mural artist for an outdoor advertising (billboard) company, and was teaching college art classes in the evenings. I was so sickened by the substances I used in

Cristina Acosta Signature Ceramic Tile
Cristina Acosta
Signature Ceramic Tile
©Cristina Acosta

the billboard work, that I couldn’t comfortably oil paint. Implementing a  friend’s suggestion, I switched to painting on ceramics. Completing a series of images, I sent them to the Ann Sacks Tile & Stone store in Portland, Oregon.  Kohler  Plumbing Industries had just purchased the store as the flagship for a national chain and I found myself serendipitously in the tile business!
I quickly joined a business class, bought a kiln and learned about the ceramics business. After selling art tile with AST&S  for several years, I branched into other retail venues, eventually teaming up with a tile manufacturer and supplying my Cristina Acosta® Signature line of ceramic tile to Home Depot stores, among others.
My career as an artisan tile maker lasted about ten years, including a sideline making tabletop pieces such as pitchers, bowls and platters. Though I no longer do production work, I create some projects for how-to articles in books and magazines and for my home design projects.
I also license images for manufacture.