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.


  1. Patlan says

    Yolanda; you have influenced un chingo de artistas jovenes both men and women.
    Not to mention all the great energy you have shared with Los Veteranos tambien Esa. GRACIAS!

  2. Larry Rush says

    Yolanda,this is a great story with regards to the light that radiates from strong women. It reminded me of my grandmother who was
    a quilt maker. She became famous after she was 87 years. A wonderful professor at A.S.U. Roosevelt Woods my great friend who
    brought it to his office. He hung it on his wall like a painting. Suddenly everything changed, he went downstairs and set up a
    December show.The Matthews Gallery purchased one of her quilts and they set up an exhibit at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts
    In Scottsdale Arizona. They found a sixteenth century chair and let students visit her with her and talk about her quilts wearing a
    Silk shall to match her quilts. Women's Image Now picked her up because up until Helen Stice, Quilters were not regarded as artists.Thank you for reminding me of her important role in the history of womens art in America. Beautiful work Yolanda.

  3. Linda Martinez says

    Yolanda, I am a folk artist in Albuqureque, New Mexico and I am always painting Nuestra Senora. The last painting of her I made susre she was looking straight ahead instead of eyes down. I am obsessed with painting and collecting art of her. She represents strength, womanhood, and all the good things we as Chicanas are and need. Thanks for doing what you do. You inspire me even more.

    Linda Valencia Martinez

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>