Speaking mothers of resistance: The subversion of the ‘Trilogy of Oppression’ in the artworks of Santa Barraza



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This thesis explores the complexities of motherhood in the Chicano culture through Santa Barraza’s painting, Homage to My Mother, Frances (1992) by examining the active labor the painting performs in reclaiming and resisting the colonization of memory, heritage, and gender. Specifically, this thesis investigates how Barraza’s work transcends the Chicana virgin/mother/whore “trilogy of oppression” stereotypes Alicia Gaspar de Alba argues patriarchal cultures have imposed upon Chicanas. Although this thesis is anchored by Homage to My Mother, Frances, it demonstrates how Barraza also addresses visual and conceptual types of motherhood in her artworks, Cihuateteo con Coyolxauhqui y Guadalupana (1996) and La Malinche (1991).

Additionally, this thesis provides new readings of the previously understudied artwork Homage to My Mother, Frances through a Chicana feminist lens and an object-centered approach. Moreover, a social art historical analysis also brings further depth and understanding to Barraza’s artworks. Furthermore, I propose undiscovered complexities with regards to Chicano motherhood and its active resistance against the ways women of color have been homogenized, objectified, or pushed into types, rather than being allowed sovereignty. I argue Barraza subverts the “trilogy of oppression’s” de-individualizing labels of motherhood by validating presence through matrilineal lines. Finally, I contend her images ultimately intervene to re-introduce agency and complexity to women who have long been disregarded by the determinacy of these visual and conceptual tropes.



Chicana Art, Santa Barraza, Homage to My Mother, Frances, La Malinche, Cihuateteo con Coyolxauhqui y Guadalupana, Trilogy of Oppression Stereotypes, Motherhood