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Latino/a Mobility in California History

Genevieve Carpio, Javier Cienfuegos, Ivonne Gonzalez, Karen Lazcano, Katherine Lee Berry, Joshua Mandell, Christofer Rodelo, Alfonso Toro, Authors

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Juxtaposition of La Virgen de Guadalupe and The Eagle

The final object presents three murals where La Virgen de Guadalupe and the Eagle are integrated and juxtaposed. They exemplify the radical power behind this artistic technique. It does not have any music attached to it so that the audience can take control and form their own ideas and understandings of the “mestizaje” (mix) of political and religious iconography found in the Chicana/o movement. Instead of focusing on religious iconography or on political iconography, these murals integrate both institutions creating a new set of ideas. The murals presented hail from both San Diego and East Los Angeles

When asked “What are the words/ thoughts that come to mind while watching the murals that integrate both La Virgen de Guadalupe and the Eagle?” some of the responses included “Mexican identity”  “Usable power, duality, struggle, long history of this work.” One survey answered that they were “surprised by how powerful the Virgen symbol becomes when its next to the eagle. The eagle becomes part of her presence. She becomes a guide.” This particular comment shed’s light on how the virgin was once used in Mexico to bring the native population under the Christian church’s control (Peterson, 1992, 41), and now it is seen as an object of mobility, as an “immigrant object”

Once asked to measure if these images changes or stays the same when they are juxtaposed in a mural, 50 percent answered that the meaning of the images changes very much, 34 percent answered that they moderately change, and 16 percent did not answer the last question. Nobody marked the “Stays the Same, Very little, or Completely Changes” categories. These findings reveal that a shift in meaning certainly occurs when these images are presented together. Although the meanings of these images does not completely change, it creates a new hybrid meaning, with both religious and political undertones.

Undoubtedly, the mixture of these images produces an immense power which was even noted by United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, “Guadalupe's revolutionary meaning has also been revived. To profess his personal faith and refute charges of Communist leanings, activist Cesar Chavez chose her as one of the principal symbols for the farmworkers' strike in the 1960s.  (Peterson, 1992, 46).  

Diving into this iconography at an even deeper level, these murals are not the first place where they have been juxtaposed. In fact, La Virgen de Guadalupes courier Juan Diego was said to be “have been born in Cuautitlan ("Place of the Eagle"), Mexico in 1474, he was originally named Cuauhtatoatzin, thus, Juan Diego, Talking Eagle.” (Eagles that inspire). This legenderay story within itself represents how the eagle has been see and viewed even in the 16th century by a group of people who lived South of the California Border. Metaphorically, the eagle utilized the eagle to carry her message and move around when she was unable to move from the hill of Tepeyac to Mexico City. To this day, the eagle is still being seen and categorized as a a figure of mobility and action.  “A profound bond is established between the pre-Hispanic world and the Christian world in this manner. The dark, náhuatl-speaking Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, expresses an evangelism that in Christianity is identified with St. John the Evangelist, the eagle, and she expresses it to St. Juan Diego, the talking eagle” (Eagles that inspire).
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