Sunday, April 21, 2013

Yolanda Lopez and the Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe

Another feminist artist that creates unique and unconventional portraits of the Virgin of Guadalupe is Yolanda Lopez. Lopez is known for creating three distinct images of Mary, the most well-known called Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe or Virgin Running (Q&A). This image is quite different from both the conventional Virgin, as well as Alma Lopez’s portrayal of the Virgin. In this first painting, Yolanda Lopez portrays herself as a strong, active young woman ready for anything. The Virgin has some traditional aspects such as the blue cloak with gold stars and the halo around her body, but overall, this is not the traditional, submissive, down gazing Virgin of Guadalupe. She is shown running with white tennis shoes, crushing both the Satan-like snake in her hand, and the angel beneath her, the angel used to hold her up in traditional images. Lopez is demonstrating that women do not need anyone to hold them up; they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.

This portrayal was quite offensive to some people as most people were accustomed to a view of the Virgin as a mother, passive yet loving. Lopez and her printing companies were actually threatened when these images came out because her fellow Christians were so offended by them (Q&A). Lopez disregarded the threats and continued to feel satisfied with her active powerful female icon because she wanted to show that “people in the margins have risen up to take their power” (Q&A). Lopez is obviously referring to her fellow women of color whom she believes should take both an active role in society and an active role in religion. In this way, she was hoping that her images would provide role models to women of all ages, that they need not be passive and quiet to be successful or looked upon as a strong woman; a powerful, lively woman is something to be desired. 

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