Artist Yolanda López


I did not become aware of our own history until 1968 when there was a call for a strike at San Francisco State, a strike for ethnic studies. I heard the men and women that led that Third World Strike speak and I understood at that point what my position was

"Free Los Siete" art by Yolanda López

being part of this long legacy of being part of the oppressed people, just like Black people. In 1969, there was an incident in the Mission District where seven young men were accused of killing an undercover policeman. And I had joined a Chicano group after the San Francisco State strike and we became Los Siete De La Raza (The Seven of the People) after that incident. I was interested in learning how to draw, so when to Los Siete (The Seven) to be a part of them, all of a sudden there was a need for the tools that I had, my ability to draw.

"Virgen Running" by Yolanda López

I originally did the Virgin de Guadalupe series when I was looking at media. I wanted to look at the images that we have of the Virgin–she was essentially the most ubiquitous female Latina. What was its meaning? So, I did the first one of myself running.

Then I did the image of my mother [as the Virgen] who was working at the

"Virgen Seamstress" by Yolanda López

Navel Training Center at a sewing machine, so I wanted to show her as a working woman. This is one of the problems with the Virgen de Guadalupe being so ubiquitous, there is no real imagery of Latinas at the work that we do.

"Virgen Grandmother" by Yolanda López

The other one was that of my grandmother. The Virgen de Guadalupe is always this beautiful, young thing. Yet there is no depiction of her as an older woman. I was conscious about this and so that‘s why I did my grandmother as an older woman. I see the Virgen de Guadalupe as being the great Aztec goddess and I think that’s one of the reasons why she has such a strong, indefinable hold on Mexicans and women in general. Its more primordial. I think the great Aztec goddess, Cuatlique, depicts the primal forces in nature: life, death and rebirth.