Respecting Beauty: Angela de Hoyos' Visual Art
This is a continuation of the exhibit titled Introduction: Angela de Hoyos. Familiarization with that collection is necessary before continuing on to this one.
Written by: Areli Navarro Magallón
“As to my visual art, it’s a gift primarily to my SELF, and by extension, perhaps to others. I respect beauty wherever I see it, and nothing pleases me more than to express this hedonistic joy de vivre in my craft.” -1996, Angela de Hoyos: poet, artist, editor, and activist.
Despite international acclaim, the sheer multiplicity of Angela de Hoyos’ artistry remains frustratingly neglected. No doubt, the lack of access to a cohesive collection of her many non-literary contributions has lead to this omission. Given Arte Público Press’ unique inheritance of her digital archive, as well as De Hoyos’ own rejection of the aggrandizing and limiting title of “poet”, this exhibit recognizes the necessity of fully exploring Angela de Hoyos’ overlooked talents— particularly her massive collection of illustrations, prints, and paintings. In an effort to escape the superficial treatment her poetry is often subject to (her inclusions into essential Chicanx anthologies almost always sacrifice depth in favor of breadth), this site goes beyond merely displaying the extent of Angela de Hoyos’ visual art. The hope is that by dedicating (over)due attention to her artistry, Angela de Hoyos’ critical reception may be reactivated.
“I bring to the table my personal equipage/impedimenta of idiosyncrasies, prejudice, ingrained likes and dislikes, along with a wistful desire to break down the wall of silence that isolates me.”
Much like her poetry, De Hoyos’ visual art is characterized by consistent engagement with a milieu of issues pertinent to the Chicanx community. Described by De Hoyos as conversations she “bring[s] to the table” these include, but are not limited to: mestizaje, the synthesis of catholic and indigenous faith, womanhood, cultural assimilation, contemporary political events, and indigenismo. De Hoyos was evidently aware of the subjectivity of her lived truth, however, and seems to welcome critical assessment of her “idiosyncrasies” and “ingrained likes and dislikes.” She challenges us to parse through her “personal equipage,” to locate her “prejudice.” Her ready admission of fallibility ultimately invites readers to improve upon the ideals she embodies. This exhibit responds to De Hoyos’ desire to “break down the wall of silence” which isolates her from critical spheres even today, and recognizes this collection as a site for potential expansion and revision of previous understandings of the artist.
ONE BODY OF WORK
It would be egregious to dissect De Hoyos’ visual craft from her poetry, however, as this would only replicate the imposed separation between her two artistic sensibilities that she so rejected. This exhibit is interested in the untapped generative potential lying in precisely the overlap between her practices. By pairing her visual art with related poetry, as well as analyzing individual poems that engage with the act of poiesis, the aim is to reveal that De Hoyos’ poetry and visual art form one singular body of work in which the two practices mutually influenced one another. This interplay was far from static, as it underwent continual transformation alongside De Hoyos’ simultaneously evolving political commitments. Assessing these moving parts reveals Angela de Hoyos’ ongoing navigation of the relationship between art and politics. Though the two are often positioned as opposites, De Hoyos sought their reconciliation— much as she would come to merge her lyric and visual talents.
Expanding notions of of the creative legacy De Hoyos left behind allows us to revise traditional readings of De Hoyos' poetic trajectory. Pointing to later publications in which her poems turn personal, ironic, and preoccupy themselves with gender dynamics, as opposed to her earlier strident and didactic works which sought to psychologically liberate Chicanos from White opression, De Hoyos' poetic career is frequently interpreted as having decreased in political fervor and increased in feminist nuance. Taking her simutaneously produced visual art into account complicates this understanding in three parts—each pointing to different levels of interaction between De Hoyos' poetry and her art.