Alinka Echeverria’s The Road to Tepeyac consists of hundreds of photographs the artist took of devout Mexican pilgrims carrying their personal image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on an annual journey to commemorate her apparition in 1531.
An internationally recognized exhibition is making its Canadian debut at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) next week.
The Road to Tepeyac, from Mexican-British artist Alinka Echeverría, will open in the VISA Gallery and Student Exhibition Space of the downtown arts school on Tuesday, March 5 as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series.
It features visually stunning images documenting an annual journey to Tepeyac, Mexico City, that millions of people undertake to pay tribute to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
On their backs, the devout pilgrims tote personalized items of the Virgin — from paintings and life-sized sculptures to brightly coloured clothing and floor-length robes — to be blessed when they reach their final destination.
Described as an immersive photographic installation, the award-winning work deconstructs the historical, political, philosophical, psychological and anthropological relationship between an invisible presence and its materialized expression.
Brock Visual Arts Assistant Professor Amy Friend, who curates the exhibitions in the gallery, said she found Echeverría’s work “to be both political and deeply human, which is not an easy feat to accomplish.”
The Road to Tepeyac has been featured in exhibitions held in more than 20 countries.
An opening reception for the Brock show will take place Thursday, March 7 in the VISA gallery, and is free and open to the public.
A public lecture will immediately follow the reception at the Robertson Theatre in the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, where Echeverría will discuss her acclaimed photography and sound projects.
Trained in social anthropology, Echeverría combines aspects of documentary photography with visual anthropology and conceptual art in her work.
Friend looks forward to hearing the impact Echeverría’s background has on her investigative process: from how she initiates her projects to the factors determining how she achieves the final, visual form.
In addition to the The Road to Tepeyac (2010), Echeverría will discuss her projects Deep Blindness (2013 to present), Becoming South Sudan (for which she was named International Photographer of the Year by the Lucie Awards) and Nicephora, a four-year project based on her BMW Art and Culture Residency at the Musée Nicéphore Niépce. In Nicephora, the artist deployed a rigorous, research-based approach to explore the male and colonial gaze from the inception of the photographic medium.
Tickets to the lecture are free, but registration is required by visiting the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website.
Generously funded by Marilyn I. Walker, the Walker Cultural Leader series brings leading artists, performers, practitioners and academics to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. Engaging, lively and erudite, these sessions celebrate professional achievement.
The Road to Tepeyac
Exhibition opening reception: Thursday, March. 7, 5 p.m.
Where: VISA Art Gallery and Student Exhibition Space, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
Exhibition runs: March 5 to 26.
Public lecture: An anthropological gaze in contemporary photographic practice
Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in the Robertson Theatre of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.