THREE LATIN AMERICAN ARTISTS REDEFINE CULTURAL IDENTITIES WITH CONTEMPORIZED VERSIONS OF TRADITIONAL ICONS
Santa Fe, NM (July 5, 2019): The art of Nicholas Herrera, Patrick McGrath Muñiz and Thomas Vigil pay homage to the artists’ ancestral roots while initiating a dialogue that connects the past to the present. Herrera, a celebrated local outsider/folk artist, is a 15th generation New Mexican whose relatives were among the early Spanish settlers in northern New Mexico. Muñiz grew up in Puerto Rico, one of the oldest colonies in the world, where he was deeply influenced by Spanish Colonial art and the Roman Catholic religion. Born and raised in Española, New Mexico, Thomas Vigil was surrounded by a closely connected community rich in the area’s culture and religion, and consequently, was continually exposed to the artwork that espoused those ideals. All three artists use their strong cultural heritage to address current social and political issues in their upcoming Spanish Market Group Show, Sin Fronteras.
“I want people to think about what’s going on in the world,” says Herrera of his artistic motivation. “I don’t hold back with my art; I just do what I want to do.” Herrera is known as a modern-day Santero, or maker of religious images, due to his unique interpretations of religious themes. One of his most well known pieces is now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection and depicts a figure of Jesus in the back of a cop car, relating the crucifixion of Christ to the persecution of minorities in America. Herrera’s retablos and bultos are made from wood and recycled metal and depict icons from his Catholic faith that are often connected with the hardships of minorities and rural life, which Herrera has personally overcome through his art.
Muñiz goes further than re-contextualizing the Catholic faith to morally denouncing it by replacing religious icons with symbols of American consumerism, pop culture or mass media. For this show, Muñiz’s triptychs and retablos are based on biblical or Catholic imagery with undertones of environmental concerns in addition to his typical social and political motifs. “Art shouldn’t be immune to what’s going on in the world,” says Muñiz.
“My artwork has always been a constant pursuit to find a harmony between my cultural, religious beliefs, and my love for controversial, lowbrow art forms,” says New Mexican artist Thomas Vigil. Vigil lifts sacred figures from the western art canon and drops them into the contemporary arena, creating striking juxtapositions between high and low, and accepted and discarded objects or imagery. Depictions of the Holy Family and other Christian icons were common, not only in the context of church, but as they filtered into everyday life. As such, they became deeply ingrained in Vigil’s identity as both person and artist.
Sin Fronteras: Nicholas Herrera, Patrick McGrath Muñiz, Thomas Vigil opens Friday, July 26th with a public reception from 5-7pm. The show will remain on display through August 24th at EVOKE Contemporary.
EVOKE Contemporary, located in the pre-eminent Railyard Arts District in the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is committed to exhibiting a broad spectrum of prominent American and international contemporary artists with a strong focus on figurative realism and abstract expressionism.
Lili Dale, Press Coordinator
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SIN FRONTERAS: Nicholas Herrera, Patrick McGrath Muñiz, Thomas Vigil
- 550 S Guadalupe St
- Santa Fe, NM 87501
- EVOKE Contemporary
- Recurring daily