Yolanda Lopez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Yolanda M. López
Born1942 (age 76–77)
EducationSan Diego State University,
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
MovementBay Area Chicano Art Movement

Yolanda M. López (born 1942) is an American painter, printmaker, educator and film producer living in San Francisco, California. She is known for her work that focuses on the experience of Mexican American women and often challenges ethnic stereotypes associated with them.


Yolanda López was born in 1942 in San Diego, California and she is a third-generation Chicana.[1][2] While her grandparents were migrating from Mexico to the United States, they experienced crossing the Río Bravo river in a boat and avoiding shots fired from the Texas Rangers.[3] López and her two younger siblings were raised by her mother and her maternal grandparents in San Diego, California.[4]

After graduating from high school in Logan Heights in San Diego, she moved to San Francisco and attended San Francisco State University (SFSU).[3] She became involved in the student movement called the Third World Liberation Front,[3] that shut down SFSU in a 1968 strike called the "Third World Strike". She also became active in the arts.[1] During this time period, López became aware of her position within the community as she is quoted saying, "I did not become aware of our own history until 1968 when there was a call for a strike at San Francisco State, a strike for ethnic studies. I heard the men and women that led that Third World Strike speak and I understood at that point what my position was being part of this long legacy of being part of the oppressed people, just like Black people."[1]

During the 1970s, López returned to San Diego. She enrolled at San Diego State University in 1971, graduating in 1975 with a B.A. in painting and drawing. She enrolled at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), receiving with a Master of Fine Arts in 1979.[5][6] While at the University of California, San Diego, her professors Allan Sekula and Martha Rosler encouraged her to focus on conceptual practice with social, political, and educational impact.[7]

In 1978 Lopez and conceptual artist René Yañez moved to San Francisco's Mission district and in 1980 she gave birth Río Yañez.[1][8] A few years later Lopez moved into the apartment next door and maintained a professional relationship with Yañez.[1] After 40 years of living in her home, in 2014, she and her family faced eviction through the Ellis Act. In response, she created a series of "eviction garage sales" to comment on issues of gentrification and cultural heritage in San Francisco.[9]


López obtained international celebrity for her Virgen de Guadalupe series of drawings, prints, collage, assemblage, and paintings. The series, which depicted "ordinary" Mexican women (including her grandmother and López herself) with Guadalupan attributes (usually the mandorla), attracted praise for "sanctifying" average Mexican women, who were depicted performing domestic and other labor. The 1978 triptych oil pastel drawings depict herself and her family members as Virgin de Guadalupe-esque figures, where López depicts herself clutching a snake while stepping on an angel, a symbol of the patriarchy.[10] Critics, particularly devotees of the Virgin, objected to the series, which they viewed as a sacrilegious debasement of a holy image.[citation needed]

Woman's Work is Never Done is another set of prints. One of the series prints collection, one of which, "The Nanny", attempted to study some problems faced by immigrant women of Hispanic descent in the United States. The work was featured at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.[7]

Her famous political poster titled Who's the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim? features an angry young man in an Aztec headdress and traditional jewelry holding a crumpled-up paper titled "Immigration Plans." This 1978 poster was created during a period of political debate in the U.S. which resulted in the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1978, which limited immigration from a single country to 20,000 people per year with a total cap of 290,000.[11] With this poster, she claims that the modern descendants of the Aztecs and their neighbors have a fundamental right to immigrate freely to the United States of America and Canada because Spain claimed much of the western portion of North America as its colonial territory.[citation needed]

López has also curated exhibitions, including "Cactus Hearts/Barb Wired Dreams", which featured works of art concerning immigration to the United States. The exhibition debuted at the Galería de la Raza and subsequently toured nationwide as part of an exhibition called "La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexico/United States Border Experience".[citation needed]

López has produced two films, Images of Mexicans in the Media and When you Think of Mexico, which challenge the way the mass media depicts Mexicans and other Latin Americans.[citation needed]

She served as director of education at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco, and has taught at University of California, Berkeley, Mills College, and Stanford University.[7]

According to López, "It is important for us to be visually literate; it is a survival skill. The media is what passes for culture in contemporary U.S. society, and it is extremely powerful. It is crucial that we systematically explore the cultural mis-definition of Mexicans and Latin Americans that is presented in the media."[2]

Select exhibitions[edit]

1993 - "La Frontera / The Border: Art about the Mexico/United States Border Experience," Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, California

1997 - "Mirror, Mirror... Gender Roles and the Historical Significance of Beauty," San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California

2008 - "A Declaration of Immigration," group exhibition, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, Illinois[12]

2008 - "Women’s Work is Never Done", solo exhibition, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA), San Francisco, California[13]

2011 - "Mex/L.A.:Mexican" Modernisms in Los Angeles, 1930-1985," Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California.[14]

2017 - “Here Now: Where We Stand”, group exhibition, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA), San Francisco, California[15]

2017 – 2018 - "Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985," Hammer Museum, Los Angeles[16] and Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Shaping San Francisco". Shaping SF. 2014. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
  2. ^ a b "Yolanda Lopez". UCSB Library. 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  3. ^ a b c Mirkin, Dina Comisarenco (April 1, 2010). "Yolanda M. López (Book Review)". Woman's Art Journal. 31 (1): 57–59. JSTOR 40605247.
  4. ^ Ruiz, Vicki L. (1998). From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth Century America. New York City: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513099-7.
  5. ^ Frock, Christian. "Mission artist Yolanda López puts eviction on display". www.sfgate.com. SFGate.
  6. ^ LaDuke, Betty (1992). Women Artists Multi-Cultural Visions. New Jersey: The Red Sea Press, Inc. pp. 103–112. ISBN 978-0-932415-78-3.
  7. ^ a b c Fajardo-Hill, Cecilia; Giunta, Andrea; Alonso, Rodrigo (2017). Radical women : Latin American art, 1960-1985. Fajardo-Hill, Cecilia,, Giunta, Andrea,, Alonso, Rodrigo, Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center,, Brooklyn Museum,, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (Project). Los Angeles. ISBN 9783791356808. OCLC 982089637.
  8. ^ Davalos, Karen Mary (2008). Yolanda López. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780895511102.
  9. ^ "Mission artist Yolanda López puts eviction on display". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  10. ^ Jackson, Carlos Francisco (2009). Chicana and Chicano Art: ProtestArte. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. p. 117. ISBN 9780816526475.
  11. ^ "Immigration Statistics: A Story of Neglect". books.nap.edu. 1985. p. 20. Retrieved 2015-04-22.
  12. ^ "A Declaration of Immigration". National Museum of Mexican Art. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  13. ^ ""Women on War" Solo Mujeres 21st Annual Juried Exhibition and Yolanda Lopez's solo show "Womens Work is Never Done"". www.sanjose.com. 2008. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  14. ^ "MEX/LA: Mexican modernism(s) in Los Angeles at the Museum of Latin American Art". artdaily.com. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  15. ^ "Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) Presents: "Here Now: Where We Stand"". KPFA. 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  16. ^ "Alum Yolanda Lopez Featured in 'Radical Women: Latin American Art' Exhibit". College of Liberal & Creative Arts, San Francisco State University. September 28, 2017. Retrieved 2019-01-16.

External links[edit]