Saturday, February 27, 2021

Arte Latino Textiles
ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski


Introduction
Arte Latino explores the rich culture that runs through the American experience. The works below were created by artists from a vast array of backgrounds: Puerto Rican, Mexican, American, Cuban American, Central American and South Armerican. Some works are intensely political whilst others explore the nature of personal identity or stamp on our mind the power of factors that shape us.

America like Australia are countries where the indigeneous populations were overwhelmed by immigrants who came from a vast array of different countries, cultures and life experiences. The white Anglo-Saxon male initially dominated the artistic voices of these nations. However, creative talent is far more diverse and so forced its way from the streets, from the painted rocks, from the easels, from the foundaries into the human consciousness. Art is what human beings do with no reward in mind!

This post is the first in a series that explores Arte Latino artworks. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I do.
Marie-Therese


Arte Latino Textiles

Artist and Title of Work: Agueda Martinez, Tapestry Weave Rag Jerga (1994).
Technique and Materials: Woven cotton cloth on cotton yarn warp.
Size: 219.7 x 133.4 cm.
Courtesy: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Acquisition: Museum purchase in part through the Smthsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program.
Comment[1]: Born in 1898, Agueda Martinez learned to weave from her uncle, Lorenzi Trujillo, first weaving rag rugs when she was twelve, and later weaving tapestry wool blankets. From 1925 until her death at 102, she lived and worked in Mendanales, New Mexico, not far from Santa Fe, where she carried on textile traditions that had been in her family since the 16th century Spanish conquest. Martinez's vibrant works blend Pueblo and Navajo with early Spanish and north Mexican textile traditions. In addition to working daily at her treadle loom, the artist also bore ten children. Agueda Martinez passed on the weaving tradition by teaching through the Home Education and Livilhood Programs (HELP) in Hernandez and Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Artist and Title of Work: Agueda Martinez, Tapestry Weave Rag Jerga (1994).
Technique and Materials: Woven cotton cloth on cotton yarn warp.
Size: 219.7 x 133.4 cm.
Courtesy: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Acquisition: Museum purchase in part through the Smthsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program.
Comment[1]: Agueda Martinez kept beautiful gardens, often using her plants and flowers as dyes for her wool. In this cloth the juxtaposition of reds and greens, complemented by bright yellows, lavenders, and earth tones, create a stunning textile. Martinez called this magnificent work a jerga (floor-cloth) because of its course weave, resulting from her unique method of weaving yarn from strips of recycled T-shirts. An artist who inspired others, Dina Agueda was rightfully proud in stating, "There's no one that can beat me at weaving."

Artist and Title of Work: Amalia Mesa-Bains, An Ofrenda for Dolores del Rio (1984).
Technique and Materials: Mixed media - mirror on plywood, cloth and found and handmade objects.
Size: 369.2 x 184.6 x 123 cm.
Courtesy: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Acquisition: Museum purchase in part through the Smthsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program.
Comment[1]: Here Mesa-Bains pays homage to the beloved film star, often cast as the "exotic" woman. Long swags of silk and taffeta puffs hang above the altar, while a delicate lace drapes the niche containing a photograph of the star that takes center stage atop of the mirrored pedestal. Four photographs on each side of the altar further frame del Rio in the context of several of her films. Dried flowers and confetti are strewn on and around the mirror altar, reflecting a feminine quality in the installation, while perfume bottles, an open fan, and jewelery are juxtaposed with Mexican and Chicano bric-a-brac, linking personal effects with cultural symbols. The overall image of this lavish offering is one of glamour, elegance and reverence. Dolores del Rio gave Chicanas an alternative to the Anglo-American standard of beauty. She refused to be cast as a sexy Mexican "spitfire", and instead brought a diginty to each character she portrayed. As with other alaristas - artists who use the altar form - Mesa-Bains uses a religious cultural form to comment on a secular theme.

Artist and Title of Work: Irvin L. Trujillo, The Hook and the Spider (1995).
Technique and Materials: Naturally dyed wool.
Size: 235 x 137.2 x 0.6 cm.
Courtesy: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Acquisition: Gift of Mr and Mrs Andrew Anderson III.
Comment[1]: The design of this dazzling textile has several influences, including Saltillo weaving elements, African rhythm in the border, and Rio Grande Vallero eight-point star designs at the ends. The center includes yellow and blue ikat spider designs that were dyed with chamiso, a plant fron northern New Mexico, then over-dyed with indigo from central Mexico. To produce the greens, Trujillo combined indigo and chamiso. The different orange shades were dyed with madder root from India and a catechu extract (sap from an acacia bush). As the work progressed, Trujillo noticed all the hook designs, a realization that led to the title - The Hook and the Spider.

Artist and Title of Work: Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Virgen de los Caminos (Virgin of the Roads). (1994).
Technique and Materials: Embroidered and quilted cotton and silk with graphite.
Size: 147.3 x 91.4 cm.
Courtesy: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Comment[1]: The Virgen de los Caminos (Virgin of the Roads) represents a guardian spirit of the poor who make the dangerous crossing between Mexico and the United States. The barbed wire symbolizes geopolitical borders that separate insiders from outsiders, inflicting pain and suffering on both sides. The word "caution" and an image of a fleeing family are taken from road signs in Southern California. Quilted in white thread on white cotton fabric, the elements become almost unnoticeable to the viewer, suggesting that those who enter the country from Mexico are invisible to other members of the US society.


Reference:
[1] J. Yorba, Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York (2001).