As part of our mission in the Center for Creative Connections (C3), we highlight voices from our community. We achieve this in several ways: by offering visitors the opportunity to publicly respond to works of art, by commissioning local artists to create interactive installations, and by collaborating with local artists to offer special programming. In addition, each year we work with DMA staff, those who wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to select which works of art go on view, to pick a work of art to be installed in C3 and write about it. We call it “C3 Staff Point of View.”
This year, Maria Teresa Garcia Pedroche, Head of Community Engagement, has chosen an assortment of nine retablos, which were installed December 14 and can be seen on your next visit to C3.
Describe your job in fifty words or less.
I create experiences and programs both at the Museum and off-site that promote conversation and engagement by inviting community partners to share their unique perspectives on the Museum’s collection. My job also includes organizing the annual “Young Masters” exhibition, which features works created by Advanced Placement students participating in the O’Donnell Foundation’s AP Fine Arts Incentive Program.
All of these works are titled Retablo. For our readers who may not know, what is a retablo?
Although these works are titled “retablos,” Spanish for “devotional paintings,” many of them are also considered “exvotos,” paintings that serve as offerings of gratitude. “Exvotos” are created on tin or sheet metal by local artists or artisans using inexpensive materials. Many “exvotos” include a painting of a saint with the name and image of a patron.
What factors led to your decision to choose these works of art to go on view in C3?
Often I work with communities outside the walls of the Museum. We have a proud history of serving North Texas, connecting art and people. Over the years, the communities we serve that collect “exvotos” and “retablos” have asked if these types of works are part of the DMA’s collection. I chose these works of art because some of our communities are specifically interested in them, and showcasing global works helps visitors appreciate and understand the importance of art created by everyone. Personally, I have created “retablos” inspired by strong women in my family.
Also, I love the art and stories with answered prayers. Growing up in Brownsville, Texas, my family traveled to the Basilica of Guadalupe, DF, San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, Real de Catorce, SLP, and other churches. We participated in pilgrimages where visitors would pray for their loved ones and leave their votive offerings at the altar and outside the place of worship. It was wonderful to see and hear visitors share blessings and miracles.
What do you hope visitors will gain from seeing these works of art?
The demographics show that Dallas is multicultural; we can bridge the cultural differences and find common language through the arts. The arts are the soul of our community, helping reflect and promote the city’s history and cultural diversity: past, present, and evolving. I hope visitors will be open when viewing these works and consider how these “exvotos”—these hopes, dreams, and prayers—are similar to their own.
When you stop by the Center for Creative Connections to see these newly installed retablos and exvotos, take a moment to create your own exvoto illustrating a personal experience or prayer.
Jessica Fuentes is the Center for Creative Connections Gallery Manager at the DMA.