Artists featured in the “New Art/New Mexico” exhibit in the Ross Art Museum visited campus to shed some light on the history and inspirations for their work.
Both featured artists, Victor Goler and Anita Rodriguez, said their art is a medium for social commentary.
“Art is a way of bringing social change without violence,” Rodriguez said.
Goler specializes in the art of Santos, which are wooden depictions of religious figures and themes.
During his talk, Goler went through a brief history of Santos in Latin America in conjunction with some of his own work.
Goler creates Bultos, 3-D carvings of saints, in way that stays true to the traditional iconography of a specific saint, but in an interesting way. He said his worked in his family’s conservation studios growing up, and would work on the saints, replacing fingers and other pieces.
He graduated college with a major in graphic design and advertisement and didn’t expect to have a career as an artist.
“I always resisted being an artist,” Goler said. “It just worked out.”
Rodriguez, a painter, explained the traditions and attitudes surrounding death in Mexico, in particular the cult of Santisima Muerte, Our Lady of Death.
Santisima Muerte, often depicted as a skeleton, is normally the patron for criminals or the marginalized, and promises to grant a good death to those that pray to her.
In her paintings, Santisima Muerte is often placed above the people.
Rodriguez said this is because “she is for all of us and I picture her towering above country borders.”
“Everyone always asks why I put skeletons in my work,” she said.
“I grew up with these beliefs and feel that it is perfectly natural to use skeletons within my paintings.”