Santa Teresita Urrea
For the season— from my ongoing Saint series ( manifesto below)
My quest to highlight the extraordinary within the ordinary individual life, has led me to portray Bodhisattvas, civil rights workers, various others involved in emancipatory efforts, and, ultimately, female Catholic saints. I have found that many female saints, the saints I've portrayed in particular, were autonomous thinkers—i.e., they were non-conformists, free-thinkers, who bypassed or, in some cases, outright defied, authorities and institutions, (the "status quo", if you will), of their eras. Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who refused to return to bondage, and instead took her case for self liberation to the highest courts in Italy, is the most obvious example; as is Saint Teresita Urrea, a healer who encouraged peasants to stop paying corrupt priests to perform their rituals and prayers for them. The spiritual quality associated with these saints is one of “immanence versus transcendence”: the idea of finding God or the sacred "within" oneself as manifested in the creation of household altars, the personal affinities established toward Our Lady of Guadalupe, for example, or Saint Therese; as opposed to the "without" as manifested by the institutional religious authority imposed by the Church-- whereby God and the sacred are available only through mediary agents such as bishops and priests. In the same way that I attempt to transform humble materials into aesthetic works of art; these women often led humble and quietly compassionate lives that were, nonetheless, admirable enough for their peers to pressure the church on behalf of their transformation into sainthood. In this sense, these female saints were “beatified from below”—i.e., it was through the mandate of the people that these women were declared saints by the Vatican, not the other way around..
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