Syncretic Spirituality at the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: The Art of Richard Armendariz


Texas-based Chicano artist Richard Armendariz (b. 1969, El Paso) draws from cross-cultural sources in his artwork to define his Chicano identity played out in his visual narratives as shamanic and anthropomorphic characters who contest border violence and reposition the Chicano underdog as hero/trickster/protector. Armendariz interweaves expressive landscapes and the cosmos with code-switching text in the form of Spanish dichos (everyday sayings) and song lyrics to address power and cultural dynamics of the Chicano experience. His carved paintings and woodcut prints feature curanderos as border-crossers who confront and evade current mobilization by the United States Border Patrol. Armendariz introduces animals in his artwork as transformative figures with manifold identities. Birds such as crows and owls function as spirit guides for the healers; at times, Armendariz anthropomorphizes the animals as border-crossers in dialogue with ancient indigenous Mexican folklore, and Greek and Roman deities. This thesis identifies cultural syncretism as key to how Armendariz defines his Chicano subjectivity in his artwork spanning 2009-2023 that is informed by Mexican American cultural history, the artist's life experiences, and spiritual practice.



Border Art, Chicano Art, curanderos, El Paso, Mexican American, Richard Armendariz



Art and Art History