Tribute to César Chávez | 2010

César Chávez loved art. One of the most poignant stories about him is that he died with an art book in his hands. His struggle for justice was intimately intertwined with creative expression or what he saw as the physical manifestation of hope. Without creative expression, Chávez believed, there was no possibility for a radical imagining of an improved world.

The City of Albuquerque Arts in Public Places Program commissioned this tribute to César Chávez for the Broadway Neighborhood renewal project in downtown Albuquerque along Avenida César Chávez. The commission requested work that honored Chávez and the diverse neighborhood where this piece is sited.

My goal for the project was to provide this predominantly Mexican-American community with tools and symbols to celebrate their dynamic identity against the background of the life and work of Chávez.

This work became a tribute to the gente Chávez was inspired by- people who contribute significantly to their communities through their daily work but who ironically may have no role in the give or take of the shared world because the larger community is not theirs as sanctioned by a political perspective.

The seven statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the south of the main monument embody a historical and active real-time reference. The United Farm Workers carried Our Lady of Guadalupe’s standard because she symbolizes the poor and humble and their daily struggle for recognition.

The seven pillars depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe have become a space for community shrine-making and celebration during tribute days to Chávez and Dolores Huerta, his United Farm Workers Association Co-founder.