Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma, Washington

(206) 272-4258



La Guadalupana: Images of Faith and Devotion

December 9, 1997 - May 24, 1998


In December 1531, on a hill north of Mexico City, a Christian Indian Juan Diego saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. Today known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, nearly 500 years later that image has swept across the Americas as both a sacred symbol and a popular icon of Latino culture. And now an exhibition devoted to her image in art and popular culture, La Guadalupana: Images of Faith and Devation, opens at the Tacoma Art Museum in the third floor galleries December 9 through May 24, 1998.


Our Lady of Guadalupe, 1983, Luisito Lujan, wood gesso and synthetic pigments,

14 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 4 inches, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe


La Guadalupana is organized by the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, curated by Mariah Sacoman, with substantial additions by the Tacoma Art Museum. The exhibition of over 100 historical and contemporary works includes traditional bultos (three-dimensional carvings in wood), and retablos (two-dimensional paintings on wood board), as well as mixed media assemblages, ceramics, prints, drawings, and panos (handkerchief art). The TAM additions, curated by Greg Bell, Assistant Curator, feature the rich collection of Antonio Sanchez of Olympia, a Museum Trustee. In addition, a section of popular contemporary objects including car decorations, t-shirts, jewelry, and other mass-produced items testify to La Guadalupana's broad popularity.

According to the legend, when the Virgin told Juan Diego to ask the bishop to build a shrine at Tepeyac in her honor, the bishop demanded proof of the apparition. Juan Diego returned to the prelate, his cape filled with roses that had bloomed miraculously in deep December. When he opened the cape, the roses spilled to the ground and revealed the Virgin's image imprinted on the fabric. That portrait of the dark-skinned, crowned Virgin, dressed in pink with a star-emblazoned blue robe, is still housed at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Many consider the Virgin of Guadalupe the mother and special protector of all Hispanic peoples. The only sanctioned apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the New World, she is venerated throughout Latin America and in Hispanic communities across the United States. All depictions of her are based on the miraculous image.


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