"Enlightenment #4: Which Came First?"
3.8 cm x 56.5 cm x 38.1 cm (1 1/2 in. x 22 1/4 in. x 15 in.)
Celia Alvarez Muñoz
(El Paso, Texas, 1937 - )
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Five color photographs, letterpress on rag paper, & graphite in curly maple box
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of the Blanton Contemporary Circle, 2004
One of the leading Latina Conceptual artists in the United States, Celia Alvarez Muñoz is an ingenious strategist who exploits the full effects of the words and images she employs in her elegant and spare photo-based works. Asking questions about the borderlines of personal and cultural identity, and playing with the puns and double entendres of the English/Spanish language dance in Mexican American culture, each of the ten works in her Enlightenment series tells a visual/verbal story that seems part joke and part confession, ultimately calling into question how we acquire wisdom and what we choose to do with it.
Comprising multiple panels of photographs and text encased in a custom-made box (or exhibited on the wall or in a vitrine), these “bookworks” draw on fuzzy memories of childhood for their unexpectedly witty parables. Examining language as a key to knowledge and denoting its specific complexities for bilingual youth, Muñoz traces the circuitous paths of the routine lies that pass between adults and children. Her gently probing work makes us aware of the paradox of viewing photographs, reading literature, or depending upon any art form to convey truths about the past or the present.