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Title:Rewriting muralism: Aurora Reyes, muralistas, and the Mexican Mural Renaissance
Author(s):O'Brien, Sarah
Advisor(s):Vázquez, Oscar E
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Women Artists
Mural Movement
Abstract:This thesis will examine women muralists involved in the 20th c. Mexican Mural Renaissance, and the historical reasons for the lack of scholarship on these women. Through an analysis of the specific contributions made by women from the 1930s through the 1960s, I unpack the relationship among women muralists and the larger Mexican Mural Movement through the iconography of their murals. In this thesis, I will focus specifically on the muralista Aurora Reyes (1908-1985) and analyze how she engaged as a Mexican woman with the various cultural and political challenges of what had become known as a “mural movement.” In order to properly analyze Reyes’s influence on the mural movement, I find it necessary to produce a comparative analysis of her career and murals with those of her contemporaries. Thus, the thesis also examines the work of Marion Greenwood (1909-1970), the first woman to be given a mural commission in modern Mexico, and Fanny Rabel (1922-2008), one of the last women to receive a government commission. These two muralists help to contextualize Reyes’s career and situate the role women played within muralism and especially the histography of muralism. Utilizing a feminist lens, this thesis highlights the ideologies and social movements present during each artists’ career and will show how the shifting societal views of women during various historical moments in 20th century Mexico that impacted Greenwood, Reyes, and Rabel respectively. This analysis shows how muralistas of the 20th c. Mexican Mural Renaissance adapted and adopted the traditional mural iconography established by male artists: Reyes’s adaption of those traditions helped redefine muralism; Greenwoods experience as a woman in the movement illustrates just how groundbreaking Reyes’s career was; and Rabel’s career proves the lasting effects Reyes had on the mural movement. A few scholars have published on women muralists; Reyes has been written about substantially more so than either Greenwood or Rabel, especially in terms of her mural career. Scholars such as James Oles and Dina Comisarenco Mirkin have both contextualized the work of the woman muralists discussed in this thesis within the rising political concerns of women in the first half of the 20th century. I, however, will be examining the differences in iconography during their careers. These differences, I argue, manifest how these muralistas navigated through ideologies of government commissions and feminist statements in a society dominated by male artists.
Issue Date:2021-04-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Sarah O'Brien
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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