Artist Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez | Morisca, 2028-29 - Ink on Tyvek, Spanish comb, mask, 80 x 40 inches | LocalSpanishNews.com | New Digital Press
Artist Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez | Morisca, 2028-29 - Ink on Tyvek, Spanish comb, mask, 80 x 40 inches | LocalSpanishNews.com | New Digital Press Credit: Rick Rhodes / The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art is hosting two Latina artists, Peruvian American, Kukuli Velarde and Colombian American, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez, through July 16. 

Velarde’s exhibition CORPUS consists of 15 sculptures of “indigenous entities who have survived for centuries beneath the guise of European Catholic saints and virgins.” 

The project is making its debut in its entirety for the first time, paying homage to the resilience of indigenous people. The Halsey says that “CORPUS engages with and confronts Perú’s Spanish colonial past, asserting that pre-Columbian sacred entities and the worldview they inhabit were not vanquished by Spanish conquerors, but instead cleverly blended with their Catholic counterparts, ensuring their survival.”

Peru was colonized in the 1500’s by the Spanish. The colonizers imposed the Catholic faith on the Inca Empire and with it the ban of indigenous celebrations such as the Inti Raymi, the celebration in honor of the Sun God, one of the most important celebrations in the region. 

The celebration was brought back in the mid-1900’s, being celebrated on June 24, and is considered the second largest celebration in South America behind Brazil’s Carnaval celebrations.

Sánchez’s Pinturas de Casta “references a genre popularized in eighteenth-century Spanish Colonial Central and South America that purported to depict a racial and social taxonomy of children born of racially mixed couplings.”

The Colombian American artist says that “if we are able to understand our past we can more clearly see who we are in the present.”

Casta paintings depicted stereotypes of people to show the difference and separation of indigenous, African and mixed people from the Spanish colonizers in New Spain, which included Mexico, much of Central and South America. The Halsey says that “contemporary casta paintings take inspiration from this problematic genre to reflect on the legacy of colonialism that lingers in the racial and social discrimination and marginalization present in her home country of Colombia and here in the United States.” 

The exhibits run through July 16, 2022 and are open to the public for free. 

Fernando Soto

Fernando is the CEO and Publisher of Spanish language news outlet, NuestroEstado.com. Fernando previously worked for an NBC affiliate in Mobile, Alabama, he then went on to work as a digital media consultant...