Yolanda López, an artist who paid tribute to working-class women, dies at 78

Special for Infobae of The New York Times.

Yolanda López, an artist and activist who created one of the most famous works of art in Chicano history by boldly transforming the Virgin of Guadalupe into her own image, as a strong, dark-haired young woman wearing running shoes and With a broad smile, he died on September 3 at his home in San Francisco. López was 78 years old.

The death was caused by complications caused by liver cancer, said Río Yañez, her son who is also an artist.

López produced other types of work, including conceptual art installations and political posters, but his 1978 painting “Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe” is by far his most acclaimed and reproduced work. Over the years, that piece has been featured in art books, feminist stories, and Chicano anthologies. It has appeared on T-shirts and tattoos. And along with similar work by Patssi Valdez and Ester Hernández, it inspired younger generations of Latina artists to rethink the Roman Catholic icon, a vision of the Virgin Mary popular with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

In essence, López took Guadalupe, a model of demure femininity, and set her free. He redesigned the voluminous and heavy robe of the religious image as a short sporty dress. He turned his star-encrusted blue cloak into a superhero cape. It depicted her running, instead of standing still in one place, and she looks happy.

Jill Dawsey, who curated an exhibition of López’s work that will open in October at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (it will be her first museum tribute), called it “a surprising revision of Guadalupe, stripped of its colonialist and patriarchal origins, and transformed into an image of radical feminist optimism ”. (It was so radical that López often received death threats.)

Few realize how many versions of the Virgin of Guadalupe López created, including at least 20 collages and photomontages made as studies. Her depiction of Guadalupe running is part of a larger triptych that celebrates working-class Chicanas of different ages and body types, and the idea of ​​matriarchy itself. One image shows his burly mother mending the virgin’s mantle at a sewing table. Another has her grandmother sitting on the stacked cloth like a throne, casually holding a knife and a snakeskin.

Yolanda Margarita López, the eldest of four daughters, was born on November 1, 1942 in San Diego to her parents, Mortimer López and Margaret Franco. Her father abandoned her shortly after she was born, and her mother and maternal grandparents raised her in a mostly secular home. His mother worked as a seamstress for the US Navy base in San Diego, among other employers, and during childhood, López dreamed of becoming a costume designer.

Frustrated by the conservative values ​​of her hometown, she left the day after graduating from high school to live near San Francisco with her uncle and her uncle’s boyfriend. In 1965, he enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he joined activist groups such as the Third World Liberation Front, which was seeking curricular, hiring, and admissions reforms for students of color. He participated in the group’s five-month strike, which led to the creation of a school for ethnic studies and a department for black studies.

In 1969, she was one of the founders of a group called Los Siete de la Raza that sought justice for seven young Latinos accused of killing a police officer. (They were later found not guilty). López designed the group’s newspaper, ¡Basta Ya !, as well as some posters, including one that swung the American flag so that the stripes looked like prison bars on the men’s faces. According to Karen Mary Davalos, president of Chicano and Latino studies at the University of Minnesota, Emory Douglas of the Black Panthers was one of López’s mentors, teaching him design proposals using inexpensive materials such as newsprint and various cut-and-paste techniques. .

Later, López returned to Southern California to complete his Bachelor of Arts at San Diego State University in 1975. The following year, he began studying a Master of Fine Arts at the University of California, San Diego.

His postgraduate exhibition featured three important bodies of work: the Guadalupe triptych, made in oil pastel and painting on paper; a series of self-portraits in acrylic and oil, “Where are you going, Chicana? Pass the university ”; and a set of eight-foot-high charcoal drawings on brown paper that she made of herself, her mother, and her grandmother. These drawings were intended to show “ordinary” women, he wrote in an exhibition guide, to counteract “the lack of positive representations of Latin Americans as normal and intelligent human beings” and “the continued use of stereotypes such as the attractive and glamorous Latina and the passive and long-suffering wife / mother ”.

“Where are you going, Chicana?” Came from a new hobby: running. During his master’s program, he discovered the love of running, as a form of exercise and a way to get around town without a car. This led to a series of self-portraits showing her running through the hills of La Jolla and past the new, cutting-edge modernist buildings on campus. The plays show López demanding her place as a Chicana woman in a community in which whites were an overwhelming majority. “I was the only graduate student in the Visual Arts Department who was a person of color,” she said in a 2020 interview.

After she and her partner, René Yañez, returned to San Francisco, they had their son, Rio, in 1980. They separated at the end of that decade.

One of her last works of art was a collaboration with her son. In 2014, after receiving eviction notices from her apartment located in the Mission district, López created an “eviction performance” with the help of her son by selling her clothes, jewelry and household items at the Galería de la Raza. It was a garage sale that also served as an art exhibition and, according to Rio Yañez, “it was also a way to make a lot of noise about the eviction.” (In the end, López stayed in his apartment after a community organization stepped in and bought the building.)

Details about López’s other survivors, in addition to his son, were not immediately available.

The post Yolanda López, an artist who paid tribute to working-class women, dies at 78 appeared first on World Today News.

Source link

Leave a Comment