“It is important for us to be visually literate; it is a survival skill. The media is what passes for culture in contemporary U.S. culture, and it is extremely powerful. It is crucial that we systematically explore the cultural misdefinition of Mexicans and Latin Americans that is presented in the media.” —Yolanda López
Chicana artist Yolanda López achieved international recognition for her groundbreaking and controversial Virgin of Guadalupe series of paintings (1975–78) in which she transformed the beloved icon in order to celebrate and sanctify ordinary Mexican and Mexican American women as hardworking, assertive, and vibrant. Born in San Diego, California, López formally trained as a painter but has since expanded into a variety of media, including installation, video, and slide presentations.
Karen Mary Davalos identifies the themes and concerns that unify the artist’s diverse body of work. At times playful, political, and feminist, López is unwavering in her commitment to representing the experiences of Mexican American women in the United States, confronting stereotypes about Latin Americans and challenging U.S. immigration policy.
Karen Mary Davalos is associate professor of Chicano/a studies at Loyola Marymount University and the author of Exhibiting Mestizaje.