New Mexico History Museum

Painting the Divine Symposium: Mary in the New World

August 25, 2014


Learn from leading scholars on Spanish colonial devotional art, listen to Renaissance music and take a peek into La Conquistadora’s closet during the Painting the Divine Symposium: Mary in the New World. This free event, organized by Josef Díaz, curator of the exhibit, Painting the Divine: Images of Mary in the New World, takes place Saturday–Sunday, Sept. 27–28, at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. No registration is required. Come for a little or take it all in. The talks will take place in the museum’s auditorium.

Saturday, September 27

8:30–9 am: Coffee

9–10 am: “Sculpture into Painting,” by Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt, scholar, author and curator

Some of the New Spanish and Andean paintings most closely identified with Spanish colonial art are of “dressed sculptures.” These images first evolved in Europe, especially in Spain, and their popularity among the faithful brought them to the Hispanic Americas. Paintings such as Our Lady of Pomata in the exhibition have complex iconographical roots, which we will tease out through their origins in sculpture, their dissemination through prints, and their place in church history and popular practice.

10–11 am: “Our Lady of Pomata: A Churchgoer’s Vision Crystallized on Canvas,” by Maya Stanfield-Mazzi, assistant professor art history, University of Florida, Gainesville

Explore the cult and statue of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pomata, from the western shores of Lake Titicaca in Peru. Visions of the statue as displayed within the church in Pomata were translated into oil paintings on canvas. Converting churchly visions into small-scale oil paintings involved many choices on the part of painters as to what to include and what to leave out. Painters exercised certain freedoms, often embellishing the statue in ways that exceeded reality, and took advantage of the chromatic qualities of the medium of oil on canvas. Ultimately they achieved images that were sufficiently linked to the statue in Pomata but that conveyed the Virgin’s supernatural and otherworldly status, which was bolstered by accounts of miracles that she performed.

11 am–noon: “The Materiality of Blackness: Guadalupe from Spain to the Americas,” by Jeanette Favrot Peterson, professor of art and architectural history, University of California at Santa Barbara

The peripatetic Virgin of Guadalupe is an object of devotion in Extremadura, Spain, that was transferred overseas in the 16th century to South America and, in a new manifestation, appeared in New Spain (now Mexico). This talk traces the symbolic and racial implications of the shift from the Spanish Black Madonna to the dark-skinned Marian effigies in the Americas. Their materiality (in color, gems and cloth) raises provocative questions about the conundrum of distinguishing representation and presence, idol and icon, in images that are intended to simulate, but not participate in, the holy.

Noon–1:30 pm: Lunch on your own, followed by a book signing

1:30–2:30 pm: “The Wounded Image: The Virgen del Zape of Durango,” by Clara Bargellini, professor of art history and senior research fellow, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas of the National University of Mexico, Mexico City

This talk will explore the stories told of The Virgen del Zape of Durango since the 17th century. The tales are varied, as are the questions that arise from an examination of the physical appearance and makeup of the actual sculpture.

3–3:30 pm: Voces Omnium, Renaissance music of Marian anthems and motets in the History Museum lobby

3:30–5 pm: Wine reception on the terrace of the Cowden Café

Sunday, September 28

9–9:30 am: Coffee

9:30–10:30 am: “Marian Implications in the `Crowned-Nun’ Image,” by James Cordova, assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History, University of Colorado, Boulder

In their most significant ceremonies, nuns in colonial Mexico often sat for portraits in which they were depicted with numerous Marian references that set them apart from ordinary women. This talk examines the references and links them to particular episodes in the life of the Virgin that held special meaning in the convent and were frequently pictured in colonial religious art. In particular, it focuses on nuns’ funeral portraits and considers their special properties as a kind of relic that endowed convent communities with a unique status.

10:30–11:30 am: “The Virgin of el Pueblito: The Creation and Distribution of a Franciscan Madonna,” by Cristina Gonzalez, associate professor, Oklahoma State University

The Virgin of el Pueblito, a miraculous 18th-century icon that found its iconographic source in a Peter Paul Rubens oil sketch (ca. 1632), was propagated by late colonial Franciscan friars and circulated throughout the viceroyalty in print and painted form. Originally noted for extirpating idolatry in colonial Querétaro, this talk considers her initial socio-religious and political importance before exploring her impact and significance in nineteenth-century northern New Spain.

11:30–12:30 am: Lunch on your own

12:30–1:30 pm: “The Secret Life of (Images of) the Virgin Mary,” by Kelly Donahue-Wallace, professor art education and art history, University of North Texas at Denton

Rather than the artists, styles, subjects, or iconography, this paper examines the lives of these objects after production—objects that had unique and fascinating histories. From harrowing journeys on river boats and attacks by disgruntled viewers to the indignity of being folded into a shoe or stolen from a church, colonial Marian images had rich and exciting lives that help us appreciate them even more as they appear today in museums, churches, and private collections.

1:30–2:30 pm: “Inspiring (re)Vision: Contemporary Versions of La Virgen in the Americas” by Tey Marianna Nunn, director and chief curator of the Art Museum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque

The legacy of colonial Latin America directly influences and informs visual culture in contemporary times. Playing close attention to the past, Hispanic, Latino, and Latin American artists working today often depict images of Mary in remarkable and profound ways. This presentation highlights and expands how these artists continue the visual conversation between past and present, as did the colonial artists before them. The resulting works of art speak to the present precisely because of their allegiance to the traditions and iconography established in the viceroyalties of Peru and New Spain and represented in the collection of the New Mexico History Museum.

3–3:30 pm: Tour of La Conquistadora Chapel, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Robin Farwell Gavin, senior curator, Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts

3:30–4 pm: Tour of La Conquistadora Sacristy, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Theresa Garcia, sacristana

Painting the Divine: Images of Mary in the New World traces the evolution of Spanish colonists across Mexico, South America and New Mexico through the art they created for churches and private homes. Thirty-five masterpieces from the History Museum’s collection are joined by loaned pieces and contemporary interpretations. Lusciously arrayed in the museum’s second-floor Herzstein Gallery, the exhibition is on display through 2015. Learn more about it by clicking here.

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