Malintzin: Unraveled and Rewoven Explores the Timeless Icon of La Malinche Through a Blend of Indigenous Weaving, Technology and Fashion
Open March 31– May 1, 2022 at the CU Denver Next Stage Gallery at Denver Performing Arts ComplexAlice Crogan | College of Arts & Media Mar 21, 2022
Malintzin: Unraveled and Rewoven, is an immersive journey that untangles one of Mexico’s most prolific and captivating icons. It opens March 31, 2022 with a reception at the CU Denver Experience Gallery (formerly the Next Stage Gallery), from 5–7pm.
Inspired by Denver Art Museum’s (DAM) exhibition “Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche,” this installation uses fresh artwork from Denver Artists Lilian Lara, Norbeto Mojardin, and CU Denver College of Arts & Media (CAM) Professor Bryan Leister and his students to examine the polarizing figure that served as a bridge between the Aztec and Spanish empires. It loosens the threads of Malinche and reweaves them into a jungle of fabric foliage, textiles and designs that reflects an evolving interpretation of her power as a woman caught in an impossible situation.
Latino Cultural Art Center (LCAC) is announces that pieces from the Abarca Family Collection will be available for viewing, including never before exhibited textiles that honor the power and knowledge Malintzin wielded and wove. She was a skillful Indigenous dignitary and power broker who led with compassion, grace and style. Unraveled and Rewoven takes an insult directed at women, unpacks it, and reframes how we view powerful and intelligent women, historically and today.
Complementing DAM’s exhibition, which spans five centuries of Malintzin-inspired works, this show exhibits current works of art, craft and design from upcycled materials to unpack a woman whose legacy has been reinterpreted and reimagined by artistic, scholar and activist communities across the U.S.-Mexican border. Breathing new life into conversations about our role as consumers, Unraveled and Rewoven recontextualizes a woman reviled as a traitor of her Indigenous roots and hailed for her achievements of birthing a nation that mixes Spanish and Indigenous cultures and heritages.
Weaving tradition and lore, artist and fashion designer Norberto “Beto” Mojardin will be creating a one-of-a-kind corn husk dress to reexamine Malintzin through an elaborate garment made out of organic versatile material. As with much of his creative undertakings, this couture dress, a work of art fit for the runway, is inspired by powerful women, most importantly his grandmother who taught him the value of tradition and family.
Malintzin: Unraveled and Rewoven is the curatorial debut of Lilian Lara, who will have several of her own textile works on display. Lara’s theatrical art pieces, created with found, recycled, and reused objects, create the dramatic jungle that engulfs visitors who will likely not just view, but experience, the exhibition that is steeped in design and culture.
Lara describes her maker style as “Rasquachismo,” which the Smithsonian describes as an “underdog aesthetic in Chicano art” that brings forth traditional Mexican motifs in a brilliant show of outrageous pageantry. Many materials were sourced from The Arc Thrift of Colorado, who helped make this exhibition possible through their generosity.
Lara says: “I found it important to call this show Malintzin, to use the honorific given to her by her own people as a sign of respect and in recognition of the importance of her role as translator and acting dignitary. My goal is to reintroduce people to her story without 500 years of bias. For young Latina women to see this powerful woman who took a horrible situation and through sheer wit and determination, became an immortal figure in Mexican history.”
Mojardin adds: “I was born from corn. It brings memories of my ancestors, of my grandmother, especially - from planting in the fields, times of harvest and sharing meals. A dress made from corn, inspires a sense of pride, inspiration, and removes the stigma that Malintzin was a traitor and instead a bridge that united all cultures by honoring Mother Earth.”
Exploring the historical significance of Malintzin, Bryan Leister and CAM students have created a digital, interactive app that includes a digitized viewing of Tillet’s Tapestry “The Conquest of Mexico”, offering a modern interpretation of Cortez's 36-month long campaign in Mexico between 1519 and 1521. This 100-foot long depiction shows Malintzin's vital role during this historical epoch. On view and commissioned by the Denver Art Museum, the interactive touch-screen can be experienced at the DAM’s exhibition, Traitor, Survivor, Icon, the Legacy of La Malinche, through May 8.
This exhibition is presented as a partnership among the LCAC, CU Denver, CAM, and the DAM; this exhibition is free and open to the public through May 1, 2022.
What: Malintzin: Unraveled and Rewoven
Where: CU Denver Experience Gallery
(formerly Next Stage Gallery)
1025 13th St, Denver, CO 80202
(in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, across the Buell Theatre)
When: Opening celebration March 21, 5–7pm.