Who Am I? Exhibition
Dolores, a Warrior for All Living Beings, 2018
Favianna Rodríguez (American, b. 1978)
Gift of Women in French. Women in French is a scholarly association established in 1978 and whose goal is the promotion of the study of French and Francophone women authors, artists, filmmakers, and intellectuals. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
This artwork honors the life and work of civil rights activist, Dolores Huerta, and is titled, "Dolores, a Warrior for All Living Beings." Commissioned by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University, the piece depicts our human relationship to nature and all of its creatures. For over 50 years, Dolores has stood for workers who are most connected to the land, and who suffer when corporations poison the soil with monocropping and petrochemicals.
The piece shows Mother Earth embracing the planet and imagining a world of equality and health for all living creatures. As a vegetarian, Dolores advocates for all living beings and hence I included other forms of life, including a traditional Xolo dog also known as the Xoloitzcuintli. The plant leaves represent the foundation of life, since plants helped terraform the earth. And finally, I included a monarch butterfly because Dolores has advocated for immigrant workers all of her life. Dolores represents our shared humanity that is the foundation of our social relations and of human dignity.
This monotype collage on a wood panel allowed me to experiment with natural forms such as leaves and foliage. While my first monotype collages on wood surfaces were completed in 2016, I took a break from this approach in 2017, and I delved back into this combo more intentionally in 2018.
Excerpt from Favianna Rodriguez, 2018, from her website https://www.favianna.com/artworks/dolores-a-warrior-for-all-living-beings
Favianna Rodriguez has a way with color and prominent lines that define more than just her works of art. In Dolores, a Warrior for All Living Beings, Favianna Rodriguez draws our attention to several culturally significant objects that get us to think about our world today. One of the first things I notice is the use of a feminine figure holding a blue orb, or the globe. The use of a feminine, motherly figure shows the attention needed to talk about the connection between our humanness, the femininities, and the land. The globe itself, a round shape, resembles the woman who holds and takes care of it, therefore, the world takes care of her. As she carefully holds it, it grows flowers. I believe this artwork is an homage to the great Dolores Huerta, a Chicana liberation leader for the United Farm Workers Movement who challenged America to restore dignity and civil rights to our farm laborers. Through this movement, Dolores challenged White farmers to grant their laborers Civil Rights, empowered farmworkers to unify and form strong community collectives, and challenged America to see the connection between their food and the land.
Some other Chicanx iconography important to this print is the Xolo blue dog, native to Mexico and known by the Indigenous people of Mexico as an animal with a connection to the spirit world. In many ways, Dolores Huerta embodies this same spirit, reminding us that our humanity is sacred, phenomenal, and it is what connects us to other living beings around us. Also depicted is the nopal, or cactus plant, and other vegetation symbolizing the growth and fruit that comes from taking care of each other and the land. The sacred swirl, known for its numerical significance in many cultures, is displayed within the womanly figure and her hair reminding us of how everything is connected. For those familiar with Favianna Rodgriguez’s art, you may also notice the monarch butterfly in the corner, a representation of free migration, strength, and resilience. The consistent use of vibrant colors in Favianna Rodriguez’s art is an acknowledgement of her Mexican Chicana roots which lets the viewer understand a lot about Mexican culture: vibrant color, vibrant communities, embracing joy, and honoring our natural landscape.
As a Chicana woman myself, it is important to see art as culturally significant as Favianna Rodriguez’s art. Culturally significant art prompts memory, gives validation, and it heals the spirit. As a Chicana working in Agriculture and Life Sciences, I know it is important to see our connection to all living beings and remember that those connections are numerically significant, phenomenal, and dependent on one another. My cultures are full of beauty and carry responsibility. I realize that being connected to others means we are here in this world to help and preserve one another. In seeing this work of art, I am reminded of my responsibility to honor our women leaders, care for all living beings, and to preserve ourselves and others in the process.
Director of Multicultural Student Success, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences