La Cadena Que No Se Corta: The Unbroken Chain

La Cadena Que No Se Corta en espagñol

el Hogar, the Home
page 1 of 4

The home is the woman's domain in most traditional Mexican-American families. It is she who provides the meals, she who makes the decisions on what the front yard will look like, she who continues the small ceremonies that make daily life comfortable. Her territory starts with the front yard.

José Eduardo Alcoverde's front yard, June 1995 (JSG)
José Eduardo Alcoverde's front yard, June 1995 (JSG)

The front yard of José Eduardo Alcoverde, on Tucson's southwest side, illustrates some of the salient characteristics of local Mexican front yards: They generally do not contain lawns, and they are almost always fenced. This yard is covered with cement slabs; bare dirt, raked and swept, is more common. This sort of surface provides a background that sets off whatever objects are placed in the yard: small shrines, plant containers, decorative objects of many kinds. The fencing emphasizes the fact that private space for Mexicanos begins at the sidewalk, just as it did in the old-fashioned, single-storied row houses of the past. Nothing remains undecorated, however. The fence has curved adornments, the cement is dyed pink, the front of the house displays the sun and moon, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and two separate street numbers.

Gilbert Araneta's garden, December 1992 (JSG)
Gilbert Araneta's garden, December 1992 (JSG)

Gilbert and Aurelia Araneta's back yard, central Tucson. Situated on a major thoroughfare, just across the street from the University of Arizona, this yard exudes a kind of rural peace. The bare earth is kept carefully raked; the plants in containers add a wealth of individual details to the overall assembly; the wagon provides ties with a past community.

Ysidra Peralta's house (CV)
Ysidra Peralta's house (CV)

Ysidra Peralta's front walk in northwest Tucson provides a truly baroque statement of motion and color in a quiet neighborhood. It is easy to understand why the neighborhood kids call this la casa McDonald.

Obregón family shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe August 1995 (JSG)
Obregón family shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe August 1995 (JSG)

The Obregón family's front yard shrine in central Tucson, showing the Virgin of Guadalupe. This shrine was erected in memory of a deceased daughter of the family, although such shrines more often represent thanks for miracles granted to the household . With its color and its reflective surfaces, its multiplicity of images and its general sense of luxury, this shrine or nicho truly embodies the baroque spirit that is still so important in the Mexican-American visual world. This is the first appearance in this exhibit of the ubiquitous Virgin of Guadalupe, the Mother of God as she is believed to have appeared to an Indian near Mexico City in the 16th Century. The patroness of Mexico and protectress of Mexicans, the Virgin appears in virtually every imaginable setting: in shrines and on altars, painted in murals, worn on T-shirts, etched on the glass of low rider windshields.

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