Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Photographs ponder third culture of Indo-Hispanos.(Arts & Culture)

Byline: Wesley Pulkka For the Journal


*Miguel Gandert takes viewer into timeless world of ancient ritual

Miguel Gandert's "Nuevo Mexico Profundo" photography exhibition at the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico is an aesthetically beautiful and socially profound portrait of a little known cultural phenomenon.

The large show curated by visual arts director Helen Lucero gives the viewer an inside look at mestizo religious practices, rituals and celebrations that are inspired by a unique combination of Pueblo, Navajo, Comanche and Spanish Catholic beliefs. With more than 110 photographs the exhibit allows the viewer to become immersed in specific neighborhood activities ranging from Mexico to Taos.

Gandert's black-and-white pictures capture the timeless quality and compassionate humanity of his subjects. For many of us these images may seem unreal or staged somehow but his portrayal of Indo-Hispano people is blessed with truth and a great eye.

In Lucero's catalog introduction she alludes to the third culture born from the conflict and intermarriage between Spanish and Native Americans. She mentions that the Indo-Hispanos are different from those Hispanics who identify with their European origins as well as those Native Americans who identify with their traditional origins.

Lucero writes, "...the third culture (depicted in the show) is as much a genuine and legitimate culture as the root cultures from which it evolved."

My view reaches back to the years before Juan de Onate established the first European settlement in New Mexico. By 1620 the collision and blending of Native American and Spanish cultures had already taken place. Onate's mother was an Aztec princess and his father was a Spanish nobleman who owned silver mines in Mexico.

As Onate and the conquistadors moved north, their encounters with native people welded the cultures together. …

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