In the introduction to the Dialogues, Jennifer Scheper Hughes and I identified many of the challenges facing current scholars of California mission visual culture. Here, I turn to art history’s traditional tools—formal and contextual analyses, now positioned within a more expansive notion of temporality—to help us unpack the complexities of imagined mission spaces and their past and future effects on California mission art historiography and the emerging field of Critical Mission Studies. The dynamics and challenges of this new approach are concretized and illustrated in the interpretation of two distinct artworks. The first is an early nineteenth-century landscape painting by Ferdinand Deppe that has become an iconic image—the quintessential California mission visual cultural representation, circulated and recirculated. The second is a 2005 installation by the late Luiseño artist James Luna, a part of which was inspired by mission wall paintings I have been studying.1 While the Deppe painting visualizes...
Imagined Mission Spaces: Challenges in Visual Culture Interpretation
Cynthia Neri Lewis is a PhD candidate in the History of Art at University of California, Riverside. She is currently studying the wall paintings of the California missions and their documentation and re-creations conducted by the Federal Art Project’s Index of American Design during 1936–1942.
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Cynthia Neri Lewis; Imagined Mission Spaces: Challenges in Visual Culture Interpretation. Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture 1 July 2020; 2 (3): 67–75. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/lavc.2020.2.3.67
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