Abbess as Alter Christus: Delineating Female Sanctity in Spain and Spanish America

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Thu, October 12, 2017, 5:00 - 7:00pm
2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA 94709, Berkeley

Cristina Cruz González, Associate Professor of Art History, Oklahoma State University

Art history has approached female monastic culture in New Spain through the lens of crowned-nun portraiture, a late colonial genre that reaffirmed a nun’s position as a mystical Bride of Christ. This has led to scholarly neglect of female imitatio Christi and the ecclesiastical pretense exhibited by several early modern holy women in Spain and Spanish America. Using examples from Spain, Mexico, and Guatemala, this talk explores the various pictorial strategies for capturing and performing an alter Christus status in a transatlantic Spanish world. While I discuss the images from the standpoint of their theological origin and socio-political relevance (they surface during periods of female monastic reform), I also consider their optical demands and how they enlighten our understanding of a mimesis-imitatio correlation.

Cristina Cruz González is a specialist in the visual culture of Spanish America. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Chicago and her M.Phil in Classics from Cambridge University. She holds an M.A. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Anthropology from Yale University. She has worked for the Art Institute of Chicago and has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Museum Fellowship, a Getty Research Fellowship, a Newberry Consortium Faculty Fellowship, a Mendel Research Fellowship, and an Oklahoma Humanities Council Grant.