Congratulations to Art History M.A. student Alberta Madrid, who was awarded a FLAS scholarship for a six-week summer program, and another FLAS scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year, to study the Nahuatl language as part of her thesis research, which focuses on Sandy Rodriguez's Mapa de los Child Detention Centers, Family Separations, and Other Atrocities (2018). Last spring, she traveled to Denver Art Museum on a research trip to view the Mapa in person and met with a curator to discuss the work.
This map depicts the western territory of the U.S. or what was once considered Aztlan, the ancestral home of the Aztec peoples. The artist uses iconography from the Florentine Codex to depict the contemporary acts of violence along the U.S./Mexico border. The Florentine Codex is a sixteenth-century manuscript, a 12-book compilation of central Mexican Nahuatl culture and knowledge. It provides a rare Nahuatl perspective expressed phonetically in Latin accompanied by a Spanish translation.
The manuscript also has illustrations that capture traditional Nahuatl painting-writing. The artist uses the iconography from this codex to comment on the present-day border issues. For example, the codex depicts an intact family, while the artist depicts them as separated. During the Summer FLAS program, I took two language courses, modern and classical Nahuatl, every day from 8:45 am to 5 pm. In classical Nahuatl, we transcribed and translated manuscripts. We learned that the word slave/slavery before and at the time of conquest means separation from one's family, so many widowed women we read about in manuscripts were enslaved people. Knowing the meaning of that one word helped me view the separated family in Mapa de los Child Detention Centers differently.
I look forward to continuing my studies this coming academic year and know that it will enhance and enrich my research. - Alberta Madrid
We look forward to reading more about her research soon!