People of Bexar
acrylic, marker, graphite, and cut lithograph on bristol paper
17" x 14", 2018
My artwork was influenced by the book San Antonio de Bexar:A Community on New Spain’s Northern Frontier, written by Jesus de la Teja.
According to the book, the 1750’s was a time of lots of change and diversity. Up until 1745, San Antonio settlers were taking Apache women and children as servants, after battles between Native American and Spanish settlers took place. It was very common in the 1750’s for a family to consist of a husband in his early twenties, a wife in her late teens, one child, a black slave, and Indian servants.
And these people worked together in a community, whether by choice or necessity. The community would often find itself battling against hostile Indians.
Bexar’s population was also drained as families would have to leave to found new military posts that accompanied new missions. Men would often die in battles against Comanches at these new posts.
Re-marrying was very common. Both widows and widowers would find new partners, which would lead to very diverse households.
The Spaniards brought a mixture of Spanish, Indian, and Iberian blood. Native American and black slaves were already dwelling on the land. As these races blended together, there were names for each union.
Mulattoes was used to describe a Spanish and black union. Lobos was used to describe an Indian-African individual. The word Coyote, though not used often, was a term for an Indian-Mestizo. And Mestizo was used to describe a Spanish-Indian.
So for my work, I decided to paint a piece of paper with an array of skin tones. I then covered them up completely with graphite to symbolize how written history eliminates certain individual’s contribution or existence. I then made a list of the terms used to describe people living in San Antonio de Bexar during 1753. I erased those terms out of the graphite so that the words themselves become impactful.
The city is rooted in multi-culturalism but yet that is often left out of the city’s history. As I searched countless sites and library catalogs, much of the city’s history focuses on new missions, churches, etc.
I wanted to make people aware of how who the people were, even if that means googling the words I used in my drawing.