Title: Selena, Mujeres Nobles series, 2007. Copyright of artist Santa Barraza, from the art collection of Dr. Laura Rendon
Artist: Santa Barraza
Dimensions: 15” x 22”
Media: acrylics on amate paper
A native of Kingsville, Texas, Santa Contreras Barraza is a contemporary Chicana/Tejana artist who is a Professor of Art at Texas A&M University at Kingsville.
She formerly taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Penn State University at University Park. In the summer of 2012, she taught art courses at the University of Graz in Austria, Europe. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1975 and her Master of Fine Arts in 1982 from the University of Texas at Austin.
Her artwork has been widely exhibited in the United States, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Her vita reflects a career replete with awards, appearances and lectures, exhibitions, and publications.
Her artwork is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Texas Tech University, Mexican Museum in San Francisco, Del Mar College, Fondo del Sol Museum, South Texas Museum, Olin Museum at Bates College, the Hispanic/Latino Archives of the Tomas Ybarra Fausto Collection at the Smithsonian Institution at Washington DC, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies Research of the University of Bielefeld, Germany, and other collections and various art collectors.
Her artwork has been exhibited in the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago, Austin Arts Museum, Albuquerque Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bronx Museum, Wright Art Gallery in Los Angeles, Intar Latin American Gallery in New York City, Kohler Art Museum in Soboygen, Wisconsin, National Gallery of American Art of the Smithsonian, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Modern Museum of Art in Mexico City, Santo Domingo Museum of Art in Oaxaca, Mexico, Museum of Print in Mexico City, Centro Cultural de la Villa Madrid in Spain, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies Research of the University of Bielefeld, Germany, Casa de America of Madrid, Spain, among others. From December 8, 2012 through May 19, 2013, her artwork was exhibited in the “Women Shaping Texas” exhibition that opened at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. In June 22 through July 30, 2014, Casa de America in Madrid, Spain featured her artwork as a solo artist.
In 2001 Texas A&M University Press published the book, Santa Barraza: Artist of the Borderlands, which received the annual Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association in 2002. In 2008, she received the Women Caucus for Art Presidential Award, affiliated with the national College Art Association. In that same year, she was also awarded the Heroes for Children’s Award by the State of Texas Board of Education.
Among many awards received by Barraza are a Recognition Award for Contribution in the Arts from National Chicanos in Higher Education; the Reader’s Digest-Lila Wallace Grant , Professional Achievement Award from the Women of Color Association, 2008 Women’s Caucus for Art Mid Career Achievement, 2008 Heroes for Children Award by the State of Texas Board of Education, 2012 Suenos Cultura y Vida Recipient by LULAC Corpus Christi, and 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award by Mexic-Arte Museum of Austin.
Ms. Barraza has also developed and taught visual art in Study Abroad Programs for Penn State University in Puebla, Mexico and Texas A&M University-Kingsville in Oaxaca, Mexico, Graz, Austria, and De Henares, Spain.
Santa Barraza (Karankawa/Chicana) paints bold representations of Nepantla, a mythic “Land Between.” The term was first used by Nahuatl-speaking people of Mexico in the 16th century to describe their situation vis-à-vis the Spanish colonizers in their midst. Her work depicts the historical, emotional, and spiritual land between Mexico and Texas, between the real and the celestial, and between present reality and the mythic world of the ancient Aztecs and Mayas.
She says Nepantla could also represent the “in-between-ness” of Latinos like herself who are embracing their newfound Native American heritage and Indigenous ways.