Farm Workers’ Altar

Copied 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

Artwork Details

Title
Farm Workers’ Altar
Date
1967
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
38 1854 1236 in. (96.9138.591.4 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of the International Bank of Commerce in honor of Antonio R. Sanchez, Sr.
Mediums Description
acrylic on mahogany and plywood
Classifications
Keywords
  • History — United States — labor history
  • History — United States — Civil Rights Movement
  • Object — fruit — grape
  • Religion — New Testament — Christ
  • Religion — New Testament — Crucifixion
Object Number
1992.95

Artwork Description

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Description in Spanish

Este altar conmemora la misa católica celebrada en Delano, California, en la que César Chávez puso fin a una huelga de hambre llevada a cabo por 25 días en protesta contra las prácticas laborales injustas y las condiciones de trabajo inadecuadas que afectaban a los trabajadores migrantes. En un lado del altar, el crucifijo presenta a un Cristo de piel oscura; en el otro lado, una mujer indígena sujeta las espigas de trigo y las uvas que prefiguran el pan y el vino de la Sagrada Comunión. Martínez definió la lucha social en términos cristianos al combinar elementos de espiritualidad con el mestizaje, la herencia racial mixta de los mexicanos y sus descendientes chicanos.

Exhibitions

Media - 2011.12 - SAAM-2011.12_1 - 77591
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
October 24, 2013March 2, 2014
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. It explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture.