Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Virgin Seamstress and Virgin Grandmother

     Yolanda Lopez’s other images in the trilogy, although not as well known, are extremely important in completing her feminist viewpoint. The Virgin Seamstress and Virgin Grandmother are two of Lopez’s portrayals of the Virgin that are unique in the fact that they offer an older interpretation of the usually young Mother of God (Q&A).The image of the seamstress is an image of Lopez’s mother sewing at the Naval Training Center (Latinopiacom). 

     Lopez was unhappy that there were no images of Chicana working women and thought that there was no better way of getting that idea across than by taking the ubiquitous Virgin of Guadalupe and making her into a working woman. Again, this follows the more active role that Lopez wants the Virgin to portray, rather than the passive one. She wanted to prove that the Virgin and essentially Chicana women were “mobile, hardworking, assertive, working class, strong, and solid nurturers” (Q&A). 

     She once again associates aspects of the traditional images in her painting, by making the Virgin sew the blue cloak of gold stars in front of a halo with the angel watching her near a pile of roses below. This image is very powerful because it is one of the most relatable images of the Virgin in Christian art. Women can feel that they not only have a role model, but also someone to relate to, rather than just picturing the Virgin as a distant religious figure.

      This idea also carries on to the picture of the Virgin as Lopez’s grandmother as she looks like a relatable and down to earth figure. In this painting, traditional aspects of the Virgin include the blue cloak with gold stars that the grandmother is sitting on, the angel carrying the arch of roses, and the grandmother holding the snake skin in her hands. She is once again surrounded by a halo. 

     One of the most important aspects of this image is the fact that Lopez’s grandmother was Native American (Q&A); therefore, she is another strong woman of color. This is also significant because Juan Diego was supposed to be Indian, so Lopez could be relating the past Virgin sighting with the present. Lopez always thought the Virgin reminded her of the Aztec goddess Cuatlique, with a “strong, indefinable hold on Mexicans and women”, a bringer of life, death, and rebirth (Latinopiacom). This is definitely relating the past Aztec views of life to the more modern Christian views, proving that the past and the present should mesh rather than collide. She is also demonstrating that the Virgin is one of the most powerful women the Mexican people come in contact with, even if it is only spiritually. This hopefully promotes an interest in feminism or women’s rights at least because after seeing these images, there is no reason for women to feel any inferior to men in religion or in society in general. 

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