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Farm Workers' Altar

1967 Emanuel Martinez Born: Denver, Colorado 1947 acrylic on mahogany and plywood 38 1/8 x 54 1/2 x 36 in. (96.9 x 138.5 x 91.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the International Bank of Commerce in honor of Antonio R. Sanchez, Sr. 1992.95 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

Martinez created this altar for the 1968 Catholic Mass held in Delano California, where César Chávez broke the twenty-five-day fast he had undertaken to protest unfair employment practices and unsuitable work conditions for migrant laborers. On one side of the altar, a crucifix bears a brown-skinned Christ; on the other, an indigenous woman holds wheat stalks and grapes that prefigure the bread and wine of Holy Communion. Martinez defined social struggle in Christian terms by combining elements of spirituality and mestizaje, the mixed racial heritage of Mexicans and their Chicano descendants.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, 2013


Architecture - religious - altar

History - United States - Civil Rights Movement

History - United States - labor history

Object - fruit - grape

Religion - New Testament - Christ

Religion - New Testament - Crucifixion


paint - acrylic

wood - mahogany

wood - plywood