This devotional image portrays an actual statue of Mary as Our Lady of Pomata atop an elaborate pedestal placed on a pilgrimage altar near Lake Titicaca. Enslaved divers harvested the pearls draped across Mary’s body. Silk thread produced in China was likely woven into fabric in Spain before crossing the Atlantic where a Spanish colonizer or an Indigenous Andean seamstress sewed Mary’s garments. Objects from the water and objects that crossed water reflect this painting’s eighteenth-century global connections.
Feathers springing from Mary’s crown come from the Rhea, an Andean ostrich associated with celestial beings among Indigenous Andeans. In Europe, African ostrich feathers long held associations with the Virgin, thus suggesting how a simple feather bridged religious and cultural divisions. Upon realizing such connections, priests and nuns commissioned thousands of religious images, like this one, that were painted by Indigenous Americans and Spanish colonizers. Bridging traditions, such works more easily forced conversion.
From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art
REL 51, Virgin of Guadalupe, Elizabeth Perez, Winter 2013
REL 7, Dark Goddesses and Black Madonnas, Elizabeth Perez, Winter 2013
ARTH 28.01, Global Renaissance, Elizabeth Kassler-Taub, Fall 2021
Art History 20.04, Faith and Empire, Beth Mattison, Spring 2023
Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.
Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts, March 24, 2016-June 30, 2018.
Collected by David Frederic Phillips (1929-1988), in Lima, Peru, during his time in the Foreign Service, 1960's-1970's; to his wife Marta Schlappi de Phillips (1929-2016), in 1988; given to present collection, 1998.
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