María Cristina “Tina” Tavera is a Latinx artist, independent curator, and activist influenced by her transnational upbringing between Minnesota and Mexico. Some of her work draws from a long history of relief prints from Mexico, such as Guadalupe Posada’s late nineteenth century graphic broadsides and satiric illustrations that revealed scandalous legends as well as news events. She incorporates contemporary tales told and retold that can potentially evolve to become legendary lore. Legends are not reliant on the stories’ veracity but instead circulated to share historical phenomena, to explain the supernatural, or to provide cautionary narratives.
Upon analyzing the storylines, her artwork began to question cultural and gender roles in the tales and in her own life. As observed by art historian Jamie Ratliff, “Tavera is an artist who creates complex compositions with historical and contemporary images to investigate constructions of race, ethnicity, gender, national and cultural identities. The visual imagery is appropriated from Latin American legends, commercial packaging, the media, politics, comics, maps, currency, personal photographs, graffiti, and games. Her visual vocabulary is created by layering together clever bilingual plays on meaning. Tavera’s art is often humorous and yet simultaneously confronts the dark legacy and pervasive effects of colonialism and racism in the Americas.”
Tavera has an MA in Public Affairs-Leadership in the Arts from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School. She has received fellowships and grants from the Archibald Bush Foundation, the Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies program, the Museum of Modern Art-New York, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), and the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME). Tavera has exhibited and curated shows locally, nationally and internationally. As an independent curator, she prepared the international exhibition Sus Voces: Women Printmakers in Mexico at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was co-curator for American Art its Complicated at the Minnesota Museum of American Art (“M”). Her artwork can be found in the collections of the Weisman Art Museum, Fargo Plaines Museum, and the Tweed Museum of Art. Her writings have been published nationally and internationally by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, as well as a book titled, Mexican Pulp Art.