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College of Business

CWU Mexican Folk Art Museum

This quarter Central Washington University had the honor in displaying Antonio Sanchez’s collection of Mexican folk art, known as retablos and ex-votos, at the Museum of Culture and Environment located in Black Hall. A welcoming reception was held for Sanchez on May 12th by the CWU Latinx Alumni Association and could not have been kicked off in a better way than with CWU’s very own Mariachi del Centro club.

The collection focused on retablos and ex-votos which are religious images that were hand-painted in oil by untrained artists on small, recycled tin sheets that had originally been made for the use of ceiling tiles and other commercial purposes. These pieces of art which were produced in large numbers by Mexican artists from the late 18th century until the early 20th century are becoming an even more rare sight to see now a days making this collection all that more special.

Retablos usually depict just a deity or saint while ex-votos contain images of an event in which the person is asking for a miracle or thanking the saint or deity for an answer to their prayers. During the lecture Sanchez explained the difference between the two by comparing an ex-voto to a thank you card you give to someone, but instead of giving the ex-voto to a person it is given to a saint/deity through the church for helping you during a tough situation. On the other hand, a retablo is usually a picture of a deity or saint that you place within your home to nurture and care for.

This exhibit was a glimpse into the Mexican heritage, history and traditions in which everyone could enjoy and learn from.

“My hope for the show is that students, especially those of Latin heritage, will see their history and heritage taken seriously, in a museum setting.”

–Antonio Sanchez

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