La Malinche Conquistada is a commentary on how perpetuating narratives and myths can endorse gender, ethnic, and racial violence perceptions over time. The main image is of La Malinche, a Nahua native woman, and Hernan Cortes, the Spanish conquistador credited with overtaking the Aztec empire. She was a slave who became his translator and mistress. In giving birth to his son, she became an iconic figure as the literal mother of mestizaje, the first mixed race child. Even though contemporary Mexico is primarily composed of people of Mestizo descent (Spanish-Indigenous), she continues to be considered a traitor while simultaneously a victim of exploitation. The image of the couple is appropriated from a painting by Mexican painter Jesus de la Helguera, known for romanticizing Mexican history and portraying indigenous people with European features. Surrounding the central image are four scenes from vintage media sources referencing sexual violence and family trauma.
La Malinche Conquistada, 2015
Screenprint, 26 × 26.5 inches
La Sirena Engañada
La Sirena Enganada, 2015
Rarotonga Beauty, 2016
Screenprint & painting, 20” w X 25.25” h'
Rarotonga, is a character in one of Mexico’s most popular Mexican historieta or comic books, entitled Lágrimas, Risas y Amor (Tears, Laughter and Love). She fulfills the stereotype of an exotic woman: a brown-skinned sensual, hypersexualized woman with mysterious eyes, and afro hair. Repeatedly objectified, she is always displayed scantily dressed in a jungle on an island. In Tavera’s print, Rarotonga’s pose is unflinching looking directly at the viewer and is paired with genetic charts that delineate the genes necessary to result in her brilliant green eye color. The charts express identity through our physical characteristics referencing genotypes and phenotypes of our inherited genetic identity. The graphics highlight the intersectionality of the biological and the socially constructed correlations between race, ethnicity, and physical appearance.
Rarotonga Beauty, 2016
Screenprint, 20” w X 25.25” h
En Busca de Pancho Villa, 2016
En Busca de Pancho Villa, a screenprint of mustaches, is a commentary on whether physical traits can be assigned to a race? The mustaches (left to right on top) Germán Genaro Cipriano Gómez Valdés de Castillo, better known as Tin-Tan (actor, singer and comedian); Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera (Mexican writer/poet and political figure); Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno-Reyes, known casually as Mario Moreno, and known professionally as Cantinflas (Mexican comic film actor, producer, and screenwriter and an iconic figure in Mexico and Latin America); (Bottom row, left to right): Pedro Armendáriz (Mexican film actor in both Mexico & the U.S. One of the most well-known Latin American movie stars of the 1940s and 1950s.); Emiliano Zapata Salazar (leader of the peasants in the Mexican Revolution and inspiration for Zapatismo) and Orlando Bloom with Pancho Villa mustache. Raises the question: Can Orlando Bloom become Mexican with a Pancho Villa mustache?
En Busca de Pancho Villa / In Search of Pancho Villa, 2016
Screenprint and drawing
El Coyote, 2016
Como es tu chico?
Pura Raza, 2016
The Pura Raza is a fabricated cigar box cover with a play of words from "puro" (CIGAR) and "pure". "Pura Raza" is sometimes used as a derogatory term in Mexico regarding lower socioeconomic class and has been appropriated by Latinos in the U.S. as a positive term meaning "my people". Inspired by vintage cigar boxes from the late 19th century designed and printed with chromolithography embossed labels with scenes of legends. La China Poblana is an icon originating in Puebla. The phallic plants represent a chart of tobacco plantation production and references a comparison of sexual physical traits associated by country.
Pura Raza, 2016
Screenprint, 25.5” w X 20” h
Brown Tone, 2016
Screenprint on paper bag. 12 × 16 inches. References the infamous “paper bag test” based on colorism-racial discrimination in the U.S. The bag was compared to the arm to determine access with preference to those with lighter skin tones. Juxtaposed is “Brown Pride” in text considered Cholo (L.A. Mexican gang) graffiti style. the distinguished font resembles seventeeth-century English-style script used for legal documents. Cholos have adopted the font as a form of social status in their black graffiti spray paint tagging as a form of marking their territory.
I love you María
Legend of Doña Pepa y su turrón.
Josefa Marmanillo, a dark skinned slave of the eighteenth century and a specialist in culinary arts, who began suffering from paralysis in her arms. Hearing rumors of miracles of Christ Pachacamilla, she decided to travel to her native Lima Cañete.
She recovered from the evils that plagued her and in appreciation prepared a colorful sweet cake to offer in exchange for the Miracle. The traditional cake is now known as Turrónes de Doña Pepa.
The Peruvian Turron de Doña Pepa anise-flavored treat is now a traditional Peruvian dessert typically eaten in the month of October and part of religious celebrations.