April 24: Sacred Art and Censorship in the Hispanic World: Mary’s Lactating Breast, Prof. Charlene Villaseñor Black

2023 Howard S. Schwartz Memorial Annual Lecture Series

“Sacred Art and Censorship in the Hispanic World: Mary’s Lactating Breast”
Professor Charlene Villaseñor Black
Professor of Ibero-American Art and Chicano/a Studies, UCLA

Monday, April 24th, 2023 | 7:00–8:00 PM CT
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, Rm. L140

In 2001, Catholic demonstrators assembled outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to protest the opening of the exhibition The Road to Aztlán. They condemned a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe cast as the Pre-Columbian goddess Coatlicue, a work by pioneering Chicana artist Yolanda López created between 1981–88, demanding its removal. While this protest seems symptomatic of the so-called “Culture Wars” of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, disputes over the depiction of the Virgin Mary have a long history in the Iberian sphere. The 2001 controversy, in fact, highlights two major issues that have traditionally provoked attempts at censorship in the Hispanic world: the humanization of sacred female bodies and fears of Indigenous influences infiltrating Catholic cults. This talk focuses on censorship of the lactating Virgin Mary after the Council of Trent and into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Spain and New Spain. How did early modern artists react to Inquisition censorship in the case of Mary? How did their ingenious responses demonstrate the productive nature of censorship?

Charlene Villaseñor Black is Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, Associate Director of the Chicano Studies Research Center, editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (UC Press). Her research focuses on the art of the early modern Ibero-American world as well as contemporary Chicanx visual culture. Winner of the 2016 Gold Shield Faculty Prize and author of the prize-winning and widely-reviewed 2006 book, Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire, she is finishing her second monograph, Transforming Saints, from Spain to New Spain, under contract with Vanderbilt University Press. Professor Villaseñor Black publishes on a range of topics related to the early modern Iberian world, Chicanx studies, and contemporary Latinx art. Her most recent books include, with Dr. Mari-Tere Álvarez of the Getty Museum, Renaissance Futurities: Art, Science, Invention (UC Press, 2019); the new Chicano Studies Reader (2020); Knowledge for Justice: An Ethnic Studies Reader (2019); and Shifra M. Goldman’s final book, Tradition and Transformation: Chicana/o Art from the 1970s to the 1990s (2015). Several more titles in Art History and Chicanx studies are forthcoming, among them Autobiography without Apology: The Personal Essay in Latino Studies (2020); and Antonio Bernal: Witness to the Chicano Movement (2021). She has held grants from the Fulbright, Mellon, Borchard, Terra, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the NEH, the ACLS, and the Getty. Most recently, she is PI of “Critical Mission Studies at California’s Crossroads,” a $1.03 million dollar grant from the University of California’s Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives. Her upbringing as a working class, Catholic Chicana/o from Arizona forged her identity as a border-crossing early modernist and inspirational teacher.