"Puertoricaness in the art of José Campeche" by Ilenia Colón Mendoza
Lecture abstract: Considered the first Puerto Rican artist, José Campeche y Jordán was born December 23, 1751 and died November 7, 1809. His parents were Tomás Campeche (1701–1780) and María Jordán y Marqués. He was a mulato, his father was a freed slave born in Puerto Rico and his mother was a native of the Canary Islands. His biographies always note that between 1776 and 1778 he was in contact with Spanish court painter Luis Paret y Alcázar, who had been exiled to Puerto Rico. Other sources additionally mention that Campeche was a self-taught and versatile figure, pursuing music, architecture, topography, the design of coats of arms, and the making of musical instruments in addition to his work as a painter. Certain details of Campeche's life remain a mystery because his belongings were destroyed after his death. He is widely recognized for his portraits of the colonial elite done in the Rococo style. While Puerto Rican identity was developing Campeche painted his Ladies on horseback and The Daughters of the Governor Don Ramón de Castro. His paintings use local folklore and symbolism to create a uniquely criollo product. Campeche captures the earliest visual constructions of Puerto Rican national identity. His painted studies of Puerto Rican identity furthermore reflect the complexities of his self-identity and the intersections of race and social class in the late 18th century.
Bio: Ilenia Colón Mendoza received a B.A. in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Evansville in Indiana and her M.A. and Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University. She is Professor of Art History and affiliate faculty in Graduate Studies, Latin American Studies, Renaissance Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies. Her primary area of research is Spanish art of the 17th century and 18th centuries. Her book entitled The Cristos yacentes of Gregorio Fernandez: Polychrome Sculptures of the Supine Christ in Seventeenth-Century Spain (2015) examines the significance of the Cristo yacente sculptural type within the context of the theatrical elaborations of the Catholic Holy Week in Baroque Spain. She is the co-editor of Spanish Royal Patronage 1412-1804: Portraits as Propaganda (2018) and has also contributed to the Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World and the Oxford Online Bibliographies in Art History.