Yolanda Lopez, political artist

The Virgin of Guadalupe on the Road to Aztlan

Yolanda Lopez poster

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

Artist-provocateur and activist, Yolanda Lopez, will discuss the trajectory of her work, including her famous “virgin of guadalupe” paintings, in the context of her experiences with the Chicano civil rights movement, feminism, and contemporary immigration debates. Co-sponsored by Latin American Studies, American Studies and sociology Department.

Issue in Context
The Virgin of Guadalupe is one of the most revered Roman Catholic symbols in Mexico. She is believed to be an apparition of the Virgin Mary. From the time of the Mexican War of Independence, the Virgin of Guadalupe has been assumed as an icon of Mexican culture. Each year on December 12, millions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans celebrate The Queen of Mexico with dancing, songs, fireworks, and prayers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2000 there were more than 20 million Mexican Americans living in the United States. Although they represent a large portion of the U.S. population, Chicanos, or Mexican-Americans, still often find themselves marginalized and discriminated against in mainstream society. The Chicano movement addresses negative representations of Mexican-Americans. Activists in the Chicano movement have worked to protect farm workers rights, to restore land grants, and to enhance the education of Mexican-Americans. Furthermore, it is important to understand the key role the Chicana woman plays in Mexican and Chicano culture. Through literary and visual works, the participants of the Chicano movement struggle to promote popular understanding of Mexican-American heritage and culture.

About the Speaker
Yolanda Lopez is a political artist whose work captures the idea and sentiment of the Chicano civil rights movement, feminism, and debates about contemporary immigration to the U.S. In 1968 after graduating from high school, Lopez joined the San Francisco State University Third World Strike. She served as a court artist for Los Siete, a group of seven political activists who were charged and later acquitted of killing a policeman.
Lopez earned a B.A. in painting and drawing from San Diego State University in 1975 and received her M.F.A. in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego in 1978. In her work, Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe, Lopez portrays herself, mother and grandmother as the virgin, addressing issues of female empowerment and minority mobility in the United States. Lopez contributes to the San Francisco Chicano Art Gallery, La Galería de la Raza. A solo exhibition of her work “Cactus Hearts/Barbed Wire Dreams: Media Myths and Mexicans” has appeared at several different exhibitions in California. She also produced a video entitled “When You Think of Mexico,” which addresses cultural stereotypes of Latinos in the media which she has presented across the United States. Lopez also worked as a community artist with the group Los Seis de la Raza. She has lectured at the University of California at Berkeley and San Diego in addition to teaching studio art classes.

Suggested Readings
Tom Hollister, The Story of Amy Biehl, Cyberstory, 1997 (3 December 2001)
Mcebisi Skwatsha, ANC Shocked at Death of Melanie Jacobs, African National Congress, October 26, 1999, (3 December 2001)

Websites for The Virgin of Guadalupe on the Road to Aztlan
Artwork by Yolanda Lopez
The Chicano Civil Rights Movement
The Virgin of Guadalupe
The U.S. Immigration Debate
About Yolanda Lopez