Contemporary Ex-votos: Devotion Beyond Medium


May. 25, 2024, 10am to 5pm
Show Recurring Dates
Art collage


The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is proud to present Contemporary Ex-votos: Devotion Beyond Medium. Shedding fresh light on the understudied iconographic and ideological aspects of traditional Mexican ex-votos—votive retablo paintings—this exhibition features art by contemporary Latinx artists from the United States and Mexico in conversation with selections from the largest collection of retablos in the U.S.. Fifteen of the artists have responded directly to the collection by creating new artworks in consultation with curator Dr. Emmanuel Ortega (Marilynn Thoma Scholar and Assistant Professor in Art of the Spanish Americas at the University of Illinois at Chicago) and the New Mexico State University Art Museum, custodians of the retablo collection.

“Artists undertake a dialogue between historic and new works allowing us to make sense of ex-votos beyond ethnographic and artistic hierarchies,” says Dr. Ortega. For this iteration of Contemporary Ex-votos he has expanded his original New Mexico-based curation to include new artworks by Las Vegas artists Daisy Sanchez, Zully Mejía, and Elena Brokaw; and a video by interdisciplinary Chicago artist Ariella Granados.

Other works include Yvette Mayorga’s gloriously rococo installation that complicates autobiographical and historical meditations with the tyranny of colonially-dictated “good taste;” and a unique collaboration between the New York-based Salvadorean American artist Guadalupe Maravilla and Mexico City-based artist Daniel Vilchis, whose family has been creating ex-votos for their community for four generations. Krystal Ramirez contrasts Las Vegas’ fantastical casino façades with the realities of immigrant labor, while Justin Favela considers the inventive repurposing of the city’s commercial signage by Latinx businesses, and Dan45 Hernandez continues to expand his popular lunchbox autobiographies. Eric J. García draws parallels between the martyrdom of St. Luke and the social and political ills that affect today's working classes. Xochi Solis mingles devotional imagery from the collection with the heavenly actualities of the planets. 

Together, all of the artists consider ex-votos in their holistic complexity—the way they look, the religious and cultural contexts they carry, and the deeply personal stories they insist upon—using them as a lens to magnify contemporary perceptions of history, labor, gender, class, race, colonization, immigration, families, and more.

Contemporary Ex-votos: Devotion Beyond Medium will be on view in the East Gallery of the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV from April 19 – November 23, 2024, with an opening reception on the evening of April 19. Dr. Ortega will conduct a free curator’s tour of the exhibition on Saturday, April 20.

The artists who have responded to NMSU's retablo collection are Justin Favela, Eric J. García, Francisco Guevara, Dan45 Hernandez, Juan Molina Hernández, John Jota Leaños, Guadalupe Maravilla, Yvette Mayorga, Daisy Quezada Ureña, Krystal Ramirez, Sandy Rodriguez, Xochi Solis, Alfredo Vilchis, Daniel Vilchis, and José Villalobos. The exhibition also includes work by Elena Brokaw, Ariella Granados, Zully Mejía, and Daisy Sanchez.

This exhibition has been graciously supported by: The National Endowment for the Arts, Mellon Foundation, The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico–Devasthali Family Foundation Fund, NMSU College of Arts & Sciences, NMSU Department of Art’s Lilian Steinman Visiting Artists & Scholars Lecture Series; Friends of the University Art Museum; Mullennix Art Museum Fund; George and Lucy Gray Endowed Art Fund; and several private donors. The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art would like to thank the UNLV Makerspace for the use of their facilities. Programming in Las Vegas is supported in part by Meow Wolf.

Image: Xochi Solis, A tourist in a dream, 2022, Gouache, acrylic, house latex paint, colored pencil, Dura-lar film, digitally printed Epson paper, hand-marbled paper, colored paper, handmade paper, found images from books and magazines, artist tape, brad nails and rosary nylon cord, Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Image courtesy of Marcus Chormicle.

Admission Information

This exhibition is free and open to all.

Contact Information

Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art