Luchita Hurtado: Embodying Landscape

Born in Venezuela in 1920, Luchita Hurtado was raised there and in New York City, and she lived her life amid international art circles in New York, Mexico, and California. Hurtado identified as Latina and feminist, called herself a “planetarian” (signaling her environmentalism), honored her Indigenous ancestry, conceived of herself as a physical part of the natural world, and made art throughout her life. Eventually, she settled in Los Angeles, where she became involved with feminist art circles and established her studio. We were fortunate to obtain a singular large-scale drawing by Luchita Hurtado for BAMPFA’s Art Wall in 2019, a year before her death. Join UC Berkeley Professor Laura Pérez, writer and curator Marie Heilich, artist Celia Herrera Rodríguez, and artist Yreina Cervántez for a discussion that places Hurtado’s work in dialogue with the practices of the generation of Chicanx/Latinx artists that followed her own.

Pérez is a professor of Chicanx, Latinx, and ethnic studies and chair of the interdisciplinary and trans-Americas Latinx Research Center at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities (2007); Eros Ideologies: Writings on Art, Spirituality, and the Decolonial (2019); and coeditor with Dr. Ann Marie Leimer of the forthcoming Consuelo Jimenez Underwood: Art, Weaving, Vision (June 2022, Duke University Press).

Heilich is a writer and curator based in Los Angeles. In 2016 she began collaborating with Luchita Hurtado to collate her nearly century-long biographical timeline, subsequently published in the catalog for the artist’s survey exhibition, I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn, at The Serpentine Gallery, London. Since Hurtado’s passing in 2020, Heilich has served as archivist for her estate.

Rodríguez (Xicana/O’dami) is a painter and performance and installation artist whose work reflects a full generation of dialog with Chicano, Native American, Pre-Columbian, and Mexican thought. She is the cofounder and codirector of Las Maestras Center for Xicana[x] Indigenous Thought, Art, and Social Practice at UC Santa Barbara, where she also teaches Chicana[x] art history and studio practice. Her recent projects include conceptual design collaborations with playwright Cherríe Moraga and “Making Ohlone Visible,” a collaborative project with the Chochenyo-Ohlone community in Oakland.

Cervántez is a third-generation Chicana artist based in Los Angeles. Her body of work reflects over forty years of exploration and an iconography informed by Native Mesoamerican mythology and cosmology, Mexican art traditions, Chicanx poetics, and themes of justice and human rights. Her work has been widely exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally and is held in collections such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum. For twenty years, until 2019, she taught in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at CSU Northridge.

This program is organized in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Latinx Research Center.