On Thursday, officials with the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) invited members of the public to enjoy the exhibit Joy and Suffering: EPMA’s Collection of Mexican Retablos currently on view through May 5 in the Peter and Margaret de Wetter Gallery.
“The exhibition showcases EPMA’s stellar collection, the second-largest collection of retablos in the United States. What is most compelling about the works is its significance to El Paso, Juarez, and the surrounding regions, particularly in regard to this region as an international point of passage with a multicultural community,” said El Paso Museum of Art Director Dr. Victoria Ramirez.
Curated from the museum’s permanent collection of donations by the Hamilton, McKnight, and Roderick families, visitors will appreciate the new installation of the museum’s retablos collection.
Retablos, or small devotional paintings on tin and copper, will be complimented with the display of ex-votos, works commissioned to commemorate miracles, as well as bultos, or carved wooden sculptures.
Created in the 19th and 20th centuries, retablos were used at major pilgrimage sites in Mexico as well as homes and churches. Rural inhabitants of Mexico looked to untrained artists who utilized readily available materials like tin and copper to create modest but distinctive works.
The exhibit examines 50 retablos including images of the Virgin Mary in her many folk and formal manifestations, from the well-known Virgin de Guadalupe to the lesser-known Our Lady of Solitude.
In addition, on April 6, the museum will host an afternoon of lively art talks and curator-led tours illuminating the exhibit and the related and renowned collection of Spanish Colonial Art. Art Talks by Dr. Jorge Rivas Perez, Denver Art Museum Curator of Spanish Colonial Art, and Dr. Elizabeth Zarur, Assistant Professor of Art History, New Mexico State University, will be followed by tours of museum galleries and a reception.
“When considered together, EPMA’s retablos offer a framework for understanding the joys and sufferings in 19th and 20th century Mexico and demonstrates the continued desire, despite a lack of means, for personal devotion imagery,” says EPMA Assistant Curator Kevin Burns.
Support for this exhibition is provided by the Rogers Family and in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation.
The events are free and open to the public. To register and for more information, visit the El Paso Museum of Art at website.