María Almeida Natividad


Living in various areas of the country, I came to the realization that there exists a common bond among all Chicanos. As a Chicana artist, one focus of my art is to celebrate our culture through images representing these common bonds: our cultural practices, heritage, family values, and religion. The Chicano culture is a vibrant and complex entity that is constantly defining itself. My art is a continued search to define myself and the common bonds of our people, to make visible my own reality, and to create an awareness and appreciation of our unique culture.



Christina
,
1994
Watercolor/Prismacolor on paper/foamcore (free-standing figure, detail of installation Four Stages of Life), 66" x 40"

Christina is a free-standing figure (1 of 4) detail of an installation titled Four Stages of Life. The installation represents the four stages of life of a woman: child, teenager, adult and elder. It is comprised of four lifesize free-standing figures, each with an object that represents their identity and position in life. With this installation I wanted to create figures that would have more "connection" with the viewer than the traditional easel portraits. I was inspired by the work of Luis Jiménez, particularly the large free-standing figures he created for Honky Tonk and Gaspar Enríquez' cutout figures of acrylic on wood from his Pachuco series. In Christina, the teenage figure stands bold and confident, exhibiting a determined and powerful presence, but the rose at her feet indicates the tenderness and fragility of her true persona.

 


Virgen de las Rosas
,
1993
Watercolor, paper, gold foil (retablo, 1 of 9; detail of Installation Ofrenda a me fe y cultura), 11" x 14"

The ofrenda in the form of an altar or shrine has been an avenue of expression for many Chicana artists. Altar-inspired art and retablos are art forms that express a more personal and intimate interpretation of spirituality and faith. In the installation Ofrenda a me fe y cultura, I identified certain cultural icons that had been very strong images in my life. Focusing on these images and symbols, I created nine retablos using such techniques as assemblage and collage. They were placed in the form of a cross on a gold fabric-covered wall. Flowing purple fabric framed the wall and a small table at the base of the cross was decorated with a variety of religious objects and memorabilia. The retablo Virgen de las Rosas is my personal interpretation of the age-old legend of the Virgen de Guadalupe. Roses have always been associated with the Virgen, so I decided to create an icon where I covered her cloak with roses as an offering to honor her image.