Las Cuatas Diego, 1990 by Cecilia Concepcion Alvarez (Gift of the artist)

“Faces” tell a story at The Mexican Museum

Every face has a story behind it, and it couldn’t be truer for a new exhibit in San Francisco. The new exhibit, “Faces/Stories,” opening May 24 in San Francisco’s The Mexican Museum gives you a window to artists’ portrayal of different faces.

Cecilia Alvarez and Carmen Lomas Garza are two Chicana contemporary artists, who have been long revered at The Museum, are part of the well-respected artists telling their stories via unique countenances.

Cecilia Alvarez, an artist from the early stages of the Chicano Movement, gifted a color print of her famous painting “Las Cuatas Diego” to The Museum’s permanent collection in 1991.

Alvarez says she used images of females almost exclusively in her long career as an artist to evoke other symbolic messages.

“My mother and my tia were identical in every way…but they were different in personality,” she says. “My tia was shyer and more reserved – the more reflective one – she’s looking down…They were not only beautiful women, but they embodied values of generosity…They are the ones that taught us the joy of life.”

She says growing up in the U.S., the culture is more about how competitive you are and how much you can acquire. It was the women in her family that taught her the importance of family values and the connectedness between human beings.

“The reason I began showing [my art] was that it was important to give value to that voice,” says Alvarez. “If you devalue where you came from, you don’t have that opportunity to perpetrate the good and not perpetrate the bad…We need to do that as Americans too.”

“Faces” tell a story at The Mexican Museum carmenlomasgarza people NBC Latino News

Courtesy Carmen Lomas Garza

Carmen Lomas Garza’s self portrait was acquired by The Museum in 1979 through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Garza remembers making her famous self-portrait on linoleum block print back in 1979 when she was around 31 as a graduate school assignment. She says her block print has been at The Mexican Museum almost as soon as she made it.

“When I moved [to San Francisco] from Texas in 1976, there was a lot of activity,” she says. “In 1977, I started to volunteer at the Galeria de la Raza in the Mission District. The director, Peter Rodriguez, immediately invited me to do a solo show at The Mexican Museum.”

She says she learned so much from the other Latino artists at the time – from California and internationally. Over the years she has used a variety of methods to express her art, including illustrating and writing bilingual children’s books.

“It’s been my mission since I was an undergraduate student to use this fine art format of telling who we are,” says Garza. “There is such a great need for Mexican Americans to see their lives in a fine art form, to acknowledge our culture, to feel proud of who we are…There’s a need in the comfort that familiarity brings.”

The exhibit which runs through January 6, is made up completely of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection.

%d bloggers like this: