Farm Workers' Altar

  • Emanuel Martinez, Farm Workers' Altar, 1967, acrylic on mahogany and plywood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the International Bank of Commerce in honor of Antonio R. Sanchez, Sr., 1992.95

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

Farm Workers' Altar
Not on view
38 1/8 x 54 1/2 x 36 in. (96.9 x 138.5 x 91.4 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the International Bank of Commerce in honor of Antonio R. Sanchez, Sr.

Mediums Description
acrylic on mahogany and plywood
  • History – United States – labor history
  • History – United States – Civil Rights Movement
  • Object – fruit – grape
  • Religion – New Testament – Christ
  • Religion – New Testament – Crucifixion
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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