About Eva Cristina Pérez Henríquez'
Little People Series #6


SUBJECT MATTER: What subject matter (people, places, or things) can I find in the artwork?

Eva Pérez' Little People Series #6 shows a seated woman cradling a small male child. The woman has a broad substantial body, no hair, and small breasts. Her finely featured face tips down to look at the child. The woman's arms and legs gently encircle and support the reclining child's body.

TOOLS, MATERIALS, AND PROCESSES: What can I learn about how the artwork was made?)

Eva Pérez' modeled Little People Series #6 in sandstone clay, hollowed the sculpture out with a carving tool, and bisque fired it in an electric kiln at low temperature (cone .06).

Pérez explains "The only material I could afford was clay and that forced me to look at the material in a very humble way. I started working with it in a completely different manner. Clay is earth, is ground, is roots. I have been discovering its many secrets and worked with them. The lack of money and space were a problem, I had to work in a smaller scale. So I developed the "Little People Series," which is a body of work that is growing day by day. It's a reflection of my inner-self and the challenges that I have yet to overcome".

SENSORY ELEMENTS: What visual elements do I see in the artwork? (line, color, shape, light and dark, texture, mass, and space)

The masses of Eva Pérez' Little People Series #6are generally quite simple. The spaces, created around the two figures as they overlap, are quite complex.

Gentle gradations of shade and shadows cast by light on the otherwise uniformly white surfaces of the sculpture emphasize the gentle curved surfaces of the sculpture. The surface of the sculpture has a slightly rough surface.

FORMAL ORGANIZATION: How do the elements in the artwork work together? (For example, are parts repeated, balanced, emphasized, contrasted?)

Eva Pérez' Little People Series #6 is massive in effect despite its moderate scale. The pose is slightly asymmetrical, balanced toward the right . Spherical, rounded forms unify the sculpture. They are repeated in the bare round heads of the woman and child and the rounded shoulders, buttocks, and belly as well as the plump arms, hands, legs, and feet of the woman. Fine details such as the faces, as well as the fingers, toes, and ears contract with the otherwise quite simplified masses of the sculpture.

The encircling masses of the woman's arms and legs focus the viewer's attention on the figure of the child and his relationship to the woman. The broad base and almost pyramida form of the sculpture reinforce its stability.

REPRODUCTION: What can I learn about how this reproduction (digitized or printed image) of different from the original artwork? (size, angle of view, surface texture, etc.)

Eva Pérez' Little People Series #6, though not large, is quite heavy to lift. Grout (tiny flecks is stone in the clay) give the surface of the sculpture a slight rough texture. Shade and shadows vary according to the direction and intensity of light used to illuminate the sculpture.

CONDITION: What can I learn about the condition (broken, restored, dirty) of the artwork? How did it look when it was new?

Eva Pérez' Little People Series #6 is in excellent condition.


ART MAKER'S LIFE: Who made the artwork? What are the circumstances of the art maker's life?

Eva Pérez was born and raised in Mexico City where she graduated high school and studied art. Moving to Los Angeles, since 1994 she has integrated herself into the Mexican American community. She has exhibited at and collaborated with major Los Angeles Chicano cultural institutions, notably Self-Help Graphics/Galería Otra Vez, the National Latina Alliance, and several arts organizations and educational organizations.

Pérez explains "One of the most important experiences that has impacted my life was my arrival to this country. The reasons for me coming to Los Angeles are a little different. I was not following the American dream. I fell in love with a man, so I followed my heart. Arriving in the new country, facing both a new environment and reality created a culture-shock experience in which my social, financial and creative life was suddenly reduced to a minimum. My inner world was suddenly lost in a world of confusion and chaos, this period of my life has been like travelling through a funnel: one day I had everything and suddenly I had nothing. No work, no money, no place to do my work, no friends, no nothing. This made me question many things about myself and my work. I had to start from scratch, and I did."


FUNCTIONAL CONTEXT: What can I learn about how the artwork was used?

The primary function of the work is through the creation of a formal sculpture to evoke one of the most significant features of human life, the maternal nurturing of a young male. By concentrating solely on the nurturing element and eliminating all extraneous elements including even color, the intensity of the experience and the high formality of this "fine arts" work is emphasized. In addition, there are two important art historical functions within this fine arts context. One is the recreation and recuperation of pre-Hispanic sculpture. In this regard, Eva Pérez has written to the project, "Pre-Colombian clay sculptures have a very strong influence in my present work due to their material use, their religious representation, and their daily life." The other is the legitimation of sculpture generally by women, and most specifically of the nurturing aspect of human life, which is so close to the sensibility of women worldwide. In an interview conducted by Elvira García Sainz in the periodical, Noroeste (Culiacán, Sinaloa, February 25, 1993), the artist pointed out that art, including sculpture has been dominated by men over history, but that with the women's liberation movement, women are now vindicating themselves in art. The choice by Eva Pérez of a subject so overtly related to the traditional female role, carries with it the message of women's artistic freedom to express themselves and to create authoritative work especially on social or family subjects on which they traditionally have been the authorities.

CULTURAL CONTEXT: What can I determine about what people thought, believed, or did in the culture in which the artwork was made?

Eva Pérez writes, "My work is a reflection of myself without forgetting who I am and where I come from. I was born and raised in Mexico. My roots are very old and my culture is like blood running through my body. I am part of that culture, therefore I represent that culture, not only through my work, but also through my actions in life."

Moreover, the sculpture also reaches out to women all over the world, irrespective of space, or for that matter, time, to recreate and recuperate the intense emotions and esthetic environment of the nurturing act. This is a work of female high art emphatically, but due to the universality of the experience and the role of males as empathisers with women and as both nurturers and the nurtured themselves, the work is able to resonate with men and women across all cultures.

It is important to note how the subject matter, a woman nurturing a boy, expresses the theme of women's authority within what is still a traditional context, one that reaches out to men. If the work had featured a woman nurturing a young girl, there would have been a different sort of resonation, one perhaps more radically feminist, and less inclusive of males.

ARTWORLD CONTEXT: What can I learn about the art ideas, beliefs about art , and art activities that were important in the culture in which the artwork was made?

Eva Pérez attended a special art high school at the National School of Fine Arts in Mexico City. She continued her art studies enrolling simultaneously at both the National School of Plastic Arts and the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Graphics in Mexico City. While she was studying art, Pérez had an apprenticeship as an assistant to the sculptor, Francisco de León. Pérez' broad interests in art are evidenced in the broad range of shows in which her works have been exhibited. She exhibits in printmaking, drawing, painting, as well as sculpture shows.

Since 1994 she has been highly involved with the Los Angeles Chicano art and educational community. She has had exhibitions at the Festival Internacional de las Raza (Tijuana, 1994), the Galería Otra Vez/Self-Help Graphics in Los Angeles (1994, 1997), the National Latina Alliance (Los Angeles, 1995), and at Southwest College (Los Angeles, 1997) and Cerritos College (Norwalk California, 1997). She has been an instructor in both the Latino Youth Ceramic Tile Project and the Monoprint Youth Program of Self-Help Graphics and has been a judge for several Los Angeles art projects.


MAKER'S INTENTION: What can I learn about why the maker wanted the artwork to look the way it does?

According to Eva Pérez Little People Series #6 reflects my own reality as a 31 year old woman with no children and surrounded by friends my age that are becoming mothers."

Pérez responded to the project questionnaire with some poetry that evokes her thoughts and intensions. Here is a 1998 untitled poem that reveals much in that regard (English translation by Gary Keller Cárdenas).

Esculturas de vacío lleno
esculturas huecas.
Espacio vacío lleno
el barro tan sólo moldea tu cuerpo
de estático movimiento.
En tu interior vacío
lleno palabras, sentimientos.
calma, tormentos.
Tus ojos vacíos
llenos de espera, sabiduría y cautela
observan el tiempo.

Sculptures of full emptiness
hollow sculptures
Vacant full space
clay alone shapes your body
of static movement.
In your empty interior
Full words, feelings,
calm, torments.
Your vacant eyes. . .
filled with expectancy, wisdom and caution
observe all time.

What can I determine about how the person(s) for whom the artwork was made (for example, a patron, user, or other viewer of the time) understand it?

Eva Pérez work has been reviewed by Elvira García Sainz and Marcos Lizárraga, writing in Noroeste Daily News, in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. In addition to exhibitions in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Norwalk in southern California, Pérez' work has been exhibited in Tijuana, Culiacán, Acapulco, Veracruz, and Mexico City in Mexico. The artistic recreation of pre-Hispanic sculpture and the vindication of women through sculpture have been commented on in newspaper reviews of her work.

CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING: What can I learn about how the artwork was understood within the culture in which it was made?

Eva Pérez has said that her work reflects her deep roots in her very old Mexican culture. The role of women as mothers is valued in virtually all cultures, and especially in traditional cultures. Click here to view a photograph of a mother and child made by the Mexican photographer, Lola Alvarez Bravo, and an earthenware seated mother and child from an indigenous North American culture.


STYLE: How does the artwork look like other artworks?

Eva Pérez' Little People Series #6 shares a sense of simplicity and monumentality with the great Mexican sculptor Francisco Zúñiga.

INFLUENCE: What can I learn about how earlier artworks influenced this artwork or about whether this artwork influenced later artworks?

Eva Pérez has identified pre-Columbia sculpture as having had a very strong influence on her present work "due to the material use, their religious representations and their daily life." Click here to view a late classic seated female clay sculpture from Vera Cruz.

THEMES: What general ideas help connect this artwork to other artworks?

Carmen Lomas Garza's Cascarones also expresses a traditional mother's role. The contemporary Bolivian sculptor, Marina Nuñez del Prado expresses the theme of mother and child very abstractly in her marble sculpture, Madre y Niño . And of course Francisco Zúñiga has made a great many sculptures about women and, more specifically, sculptures addressing the theme of motherhood.

© 2001 Hispanic Research Center, Arizona State University. All Rights Reserved.