Painting in the New World: A Symposium on Spanish Colonial Art

Whiteman Hall - 6 to 8 p.m.

This landmark symposium will present an overarching view of artistic traditions in Colonial Latin America for a general audience.

Organized to accompany the exhibition Masterworks of Spanish Colonial Art from the Phoenix Art Museum’s Collection, this symposium will enrich your understanding of the 18th-century paintings on display.

This evening of talks will present new perspectives on how art was created and disseminated throughout the Spanish viceroyalties. How were paintings commissioned during the colonial period? How did indigenous artistic traditions continue to be reflected in art created in the viceroyalties? How did native artists transform artistic source material imported from Europe into distinctive and original artworks? The symposium speakers will address these questions, and more.

In addition, the symposium has been organized in tandem with the first exhibition in Phoenix of an 18th-century painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe—the Patron Saint of the Hispanic Americas—and our keynote speaker will shed light on the history and traditions surrounding this iconic image.

Cost: This event is on a #FreeAdmissionWednesday evening and is free and open to the public.

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Many questions will be answered by our speakers at the end of the symposium.


Keynote Address | Dr. Jeanette Favrot Peterson, Professor, Dept. of History of Art and Architecture University of California, Santa Barbara

Topic: “Black am I but Beautiful”: Guadalupe from Spain to the Americas

The peripatetic Virgin of Guadalupe is an object of devotion in Extremadura, Spain, that was transferred overseas in the sixteenth century to South America and, in a new manifestation, appeared in New Spain (Mexico). This talk traces the symbolic and racial implications of the shift from the Spanish Black Madonna to the dark-skinned Marian effigies in the Americas. Their materiality (in color, gems and cloth) will also be a focus, raising provocative questions about the conundrum of distinguishing representation and presence, idol and icon, in images that are intended to simulate, but not participate in, the holy.

Dr. Sharona Fredrick, Assistant Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies of ASU; affiliated faculty of the School of International Languages and Culture at ASU (SILC) and the History Department of New Jersey City University

Topic: Unraveling Mythologies in the Colonial New World

Strategies of resistance during the colonial period varied widely depending upon the particular culture in Peru; and the use of artistic/sacred objects varied according to the culture. The Yauyos of Huarochiri, the Yungas of the coast, the Incas of Cuzco and the Chimu cultures of Peru’s northern region all employed different techniques to preserve their gods through material objects, and, as Sabine MacCormack points out, the non-Incas triumphed. How does this dilemma manifest itself in Peru’s colonial art, and what elements of Yauyo/Yunga/Chimu culture are incorporated into the new iconography?

Dr. Jaime Lara, retired professor of Yale University, Research Professor in the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies and the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University

Topic: Native Painters as Social Critics in the Colonial Andes

The Andean region of South America is rich in works of colonial (viceregal) art and architecture that are only now being appreciated by audiences in the United States. Most of those works were done either by upper-class indigenous or mixed-race artists. But they were not slavish copiers of European artistic models; rather artists in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile adapted those models and techniques for their own aesthetic and political purposes. In paintings, for example, they sometimes included images of Europeans in unflattering and subversive ways as a critique of both State and Church, demonstrating that artists were thoughtful and proactive members of society.

Dr. Angélica J. Afanador-Pujol, Assistant Professor of Art History, School of Art, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University

Topic: Paintings Suited for Royalty: from the Courts of Aztec, Mixtec, and Maya nobles to the Spanish King

Painting in colonial Mexico was heir to rich indigenous and European traditions. It is both the product of violent encounters and intellectual exchanges.  Indigenous noble artists not only had at their disposal centuries-old traditions in Aztec, Maya, and Mixtec painting, but, with the arrival of Europeans, they could see works of Medieval and Renaissance artists from Europe. Artists working in colonial Mexico faced the difficult task of representing their new colonial reality while adjusting and incorporating the visual legacies of their predecessors. They pushed the boundaries of painting in both content and form. Their paintings not only decorated the walls of homes, churches and official buildings, but in fact were used to document genealogies, territorial boundaries, and as records of Spanish abuses presented in colonial courts.


This program is made possible by The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation and Arizona Humanities.

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