La Conquistadora is the oldest Madonna is the United States, renowned in New Mexico and other parts of the American Southwest. Often called “Our Lady of Conquering Love”, La Conquistadora is the representation of the peaceful accord the Spanish settlers eventually reached with the Native American tribes in the region after decades of warfare. Today the statue is ensconced in the Cathedral of St. Frances in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Some of my ancestors were among the original Spanish colonists in the Southwest. When I was a child, my father, inspired by that history created a grotto in the backyard of our Southern California coastal home featuring a Madonna, around which he planted corn. The grotto was finished in time for my First Holy Communion family party. He didn’t explain the image he created at the time. Decades later, after my fathers death in 2004 I awaited a sign to guide me to create a retablo. When I visited the chapel in the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico and found a statue of La Conquistadora at the center of the altar in a niche surrounded with a mural of corn stalks, I felt the memory of my communion party meld with the vision in front of me. Inspired by my family history. I’ve created this retablo of La Conquistadora to include the symbols of the Native American counterparts: The Pueblo Corn Maiden and the Deni Spider Woman.
The model is Cedar White, daughter of Kenneth White, member of the Deni tribe.
Medium: Oil; 22kt gold, sterling silver leaf on vintage Ponderosa Pine wood panel reclaimed from a 1904 wood mill and formed by an artisan woodworker into a single panel.
Size: 48” x 65”
Inscription on the back:
La Conquistadora / The Corn Maiden 48" x 69"
This retablo is painted in honor of all of my ancestors known and unknown to me. Thank you for the gift of my life. Cristina Acosta
To all who view this image may the lady of conquering love/ Corn Maiden protect, bless and guide you to love, healing and peace.
Painted by Cristina Pilar Acosta 2004-2005
Please NOTE: there is a slight color change to the sterling silver and copper leaf in the photos. It's a natural part of the metal.
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