Delilah Montoya 12/5/00
As an artist witha history of creating photographic images with different media, I find themalleability of digital technology offers compelling imagery. The truth of thematter is that most of the special effects produced through the computer can becomposed by a comparable analog method; the computer simply does it withgreater efficiency. Throughout my career, I have worked the image byre-constructing it through various processes. This resulted from the desire tobring together a mark making response into processes oriented applications likeprintmaking or photography. In my estimation with the arrival of the digitalage my technical aptitudes have crystallized.
As a photographicprintmaker (who developed collotype, photo-lithography, photo-serigraphy,non-silver and special effects technique) I have insight regarding imagesupport surfaces. The support surface is the sculptural aspect of the imageand constructs the conceptual as well as the formal intentions of the artist. As far as outputting the digital image onto various surfaces one must beprepared to experiment. The printer responds uniquely to each surface. Minutechanges in the software profiles
The most rewardingaspect of digital imaging is the way the initial capture can be worked. Thepossibilities are endless. Yet with a little skill and vision thosepossibilities are edited to meet the needs of the designer. "Guadalupe EnPiel", a window installation at the Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe N.M.,was precisely that type of project. The intention was to take an eminent mythand frame it by evoking an intellectual response to an archaic symbol.
The Guadalupe, abi-cultural icon, denotes not only the international Baroque response immersedin Catholicism but references central parameters to Náhuatlthought. The apparition story is seemingly simple. On Saturday, December 9,1531, "Our Lady" first appeared to Juan Diego, a Mexica Indian and recentCatholic convert. She requested that a church be built in her honor. The"seĖal"/sign or proof that Juan Diego had spoken to Guadalupe or"Our Lady"/Tonantzin is her graphic appearance onto his cloak knownas a "tilmatli" or tilma. Like the Guadalupe, herself, thecollective understanding of the tilma has remained intact throughout the centuriesand resonates in the consciousness of Xicano society.
The tilmareferences clothe as a symbolic "magical alteration of reality"
It is believedthat without the Guadalupe myth that bridged the Spanish and Native Americancultures, an absolute holocaust may have ensued. Her acceptance by theCatholic Church opened the door for the conversion of the Amerindian people byextending the spiritual views of both societies.
With all this inmind, the contemporary tattooing of the Guadalupe onto the backs of Cholos
The installationmakes indirect reference to these ideas by displaying a Guadalupe tattoolocated on the back as a rollout; creating a collage digitally: the leftpectoral, left shoulder, back, right shoulder and right pectoral are displayedas a seamless image. The image resembles a garment or rather the second skinthat has been flattened. In photographing the original tattoo work onto 8x10black and white negatives then capturing them to a digital file, the finaloutput has an impressive clarity. This clarity compares to the immediacy of aphotographic imprint while at the same time is structured to my conceptualideas concerning the tilma as the second skin. The ideas are furtherelaborated in that the tattoo work exemplifies the style of the Cholo Artist. On the left shoulder lies a depiction of Cristo Crucificado, the back has"Armijio" written in Old English lettering with the Guadalupepositioned below it, and the right shoulder displays the praying hands. Thisimage, laminated onto three panels, is located on reverse side of a nine-panelmural that measures a total of eight feet. The digital image is of a Cholo/Veterano
Below the Armijioimage is an additional rollout of a full-bodied female torso and depictedbetween the shoulder blades lies the Guadalupe. The image is printed on frostedmylar that gives it a front/ back view and the rollout is suspended withfilament wire. One is struck by the fleshiness that fractures the body intovalleys and hills that conceal contouring crevasses. The form references the"earth" and the nipples suggest "mother". It is the visualkenning
Pressed, withwhite vinyl lettering, onto the window is a poem composed by Alurista that hewrote specifically for the installation. It reads:
enla tilma de nuestra
The poem grounds the installation'sconcerns of presenting a contemporary Xicano expression of the Guadalupe. Forthe Xicano, she is our protector, a symbol of empowerment, and "OurLady" of the Americas.
The installationis entirely constructed digitally and outputted with an Epson 9000 onto mylarand cover stock paper. It was then laminated with an UV protective film andthen the photo-mural was adhered to panels made of Syntra. The viewer rarelystops to consider if the installation is a digital display. It is accepted asan art-piece and at times confused with the chemical process. At one point, Iwas asked, "So are you working chemically?" In General, the windowinstallation, "Guadalupe En Piel", is discern to be photographic innature. In my estimation this verifies that the photographic environment haseffectively implemented the digital electronic image into its paradigm and ifthe work is compelling the distinctions that divide the photographic imprintfrom the drawing become moot.