Date of Award

5-2023

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History

Department

Art

First Advisor

Trenton Olsen

Second Advisor

Jeanette Nicewinter

Third Advisor

Jonathan Walz

Abstract

This thesis analyzes an installation work, Puente Nuevo, created in 2019 by artist Justin Favela at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In this large-scale, piñata-like mural, Favela asserts his Latinx identity while questioning cultural stereotypes and viewer expectations with a sense of humor and irony. The unique materiality of Favela’s work, based in the folk art forms of papel picado and cartonería, transforms spaces into immersive environments that are fun and provocative, and capable of housing darker associations as well. He builds layers of meaning into his pieces by revising historic works, such as picturesque landscapes by Casimiro Castro, that, in conforming to European models, referenced a visual language that normalized colonial incursions into the Americas at the displacement of Indigenous figures and traditions. Favela brings these embedded associations forward to critique the colonial fallout evidenced in greater absences of Latinos in the landscapes of museums and art hierarchies. Favela does this by vividly altering art works and space to mark presence. Puente Nuevo was further contextualized by its relationship with a site on its own journey to define and expand the meaning of being a museum of “American” art in terms of diversity and access. An additional piece created for the installation, Favela’s sculpture Nacho Calder, parodied a canonical work in the museum’s collection, demonstrating Favela’s varied approaches to questioning status, and the status quo. These pieces disrupt the conventional flow and power structures in the museum, reshaping space and perception as a subversive exercise in relandscaping these.

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