Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spotlight: Yolanda Lopez

Yolanda Lopez is a contemporary American artist who believes that visual literacy is the best way to create justice in the modern world. She is a third-generation Chicana who began studying art in the early 70s in San Diego.

"Mandorla" is the word used to describe the weird, shell-like shapes that surround Christ and the Virgin Mary in Christian artwork. An example of this is the spiky, womb-like protrusions almost always seen surrounding the iconic Virgin of Guadalupe.

Lopez did a series in which she painted ordinary, Mexican women with the mandorla around them. Obviously, this has created some conflict among the Catholic church, who describe the work as sacrilegious and offensive. An important question to ask is how these artworks are interpreted; Do you, as a viewer, find them offensive because of their appropriation of religious elements? Or do you interpret these works as empowering to women?

Another series included an exploration of the invisibility of Mexican women in American culture, especially in the realm of domestic work. Her focus is on bringing common stereotypes to our attention so that we can rectify existing beliefs.

You can find out more about Lopez at this website. If you like the artwork of Yolanda Lopez, consider reading about Carrie Mae Weems or Carmen Lomas Garza. You can read an interesting piece on the feminist reinterpretation of the Virgin of Guadalupe here. I chose to write about Lopez because one of my undergraduate art history professors absolutely loved Lopez' work!

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