Missions and Moradas
Several things make up our unique New Mexico landscapeâ€”among them, unique architectural structures and the people who inhabit them. A new exhibit, Missions & Moradas of New Mexico, 1922-2012, opening this Friday at William R Talbot Fine Art, celebrates both.
The annual Easter group show features paintings, drawings, prints and photography from Morris Blackburn, Howard Cook, Lucille Leggett, Ralph Pearson, Craig Varjabedian and Theo White.
â€śThe pieces that Iâ€™m showing there culminate from work I did for a period of seven to 10 years,â€ť Varjabedian tells SFR. â€ś[Itâ€™s] a mixture of moradas and manifestations of Catholic faithâ€”churches, crosses and that sort of thing.â€ť
His eight pieces for the show, Varjabedian says, spawned from a study he did on the Penitente Brotherhood, which later evolved into a book and a traveling exhibit organized by the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.
Unique to the region, the brotherhood is a lay confraternity that surged after Mexican independence in 1821, upon the departure of Spanish missionaries.
â€śPeople were basically left,â€ť the photographer says, adding that the moradas (chapter houses) arose â€śin order to provide some moral guidance to their villages and mutual aid.â€ť
So, the Penitente Brotherhood was born.
â€śThe brothers strongly identify with whatâ€™s known as Christâ€™s passion,â€ť Varjabedian explains. â€śThey go through personal acts of penanceâ€”thatâ€™s where the word penitente comes from.â€ť
Varjabedian says that along with shooting the brother houses, meeting and photographing members of the brotherhood and nonmembers alike was a true highlight. Such was the case with santero husband/wife team Eulogio and Zoraida Ortega (pictured).
â€śSheâ€™s passed away since I made that photograph,â€ť Varjabedian, who treasures the moment he snapped the couple, says.
â€śThatâ€™s one of the great things about photographyâ€”you go back,â€ť he continues. â€śZoraida was cooking that day, and I remember the smell of chile; I remember the light, temperature and the moment I made that specific photograph: the shutter tripped and those looks in their faces appeared.â€ť
Where: William R Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints
129 W. San Francisco St. (second floor)
Santa Fe, NM