“Our Lady of Guadalupe, the sainted Patroness of Mexico, is a very important figure throughout all of Latin America; it was both an honor and a challenge to be asked to include her in the mural I painted in Balmy Alley. She was not really part of my original idea, which is a mural about Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, to honor my parents who both died in 1999. When I proposed my idea to the Gutierrez family, who own the house at 25th and Balmy, they felt very comfortable with it, but they asked if there were some way to incorporate the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe into my design. That’s how the project got started.
First, I needed to do some research. I already knew quite a bit about her, but at this point I wanted to learn everything I possibly could, about every aspect of her image, the way she is usually represented, and why. Books, pictures, calendars, devotional candles, and people on the street became my resources; nearly everyone had something to tell me to help me complete my mural design. It was the most thorough outreach I’ve ever undertaken, and possibly the most rewarding, as I learned more and more about even the tiniest details of her traditional representation.
In creating her image for my mural, I made two design considerations that are not completely traditional. Most portraits of Our Lady of Guadalupe show her with her hands folded together in prayer, and with her eyes downcast, or closed. I wanted her to be keeping an eye on us, and on the things that happen in our streets. I painted her with her eyes wide open, looking out over the neighborhood, not missing a thing. I also painted her with her arms extended in welcome, blessing everyone in the community. Those loving hands reach out to comfort all who see them, gracing those who have lived here for generations and welcoming all newcomers.
Source: Patricia Rose