"Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe /  Our Lady of Guadalupe” 48" x 30"(2012)
       
     
“Ajedrez / Chess.” Oil on Canvas. 30” x 40” (2009)
       
     
“Hacia el Norte / Driving North”  Oil on Canvas.  30” x 40” (2013)
       
     
“The Dance of Shiva” 48” x 36” (1999)
       
     
"Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe /  Our Lady of Guadalupe” 48" x 30"(2012)
       
     
"Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe / Our Lady of Guadalupe” 48" x 30"(2012)

“Ten years after the bloody Spanish conquest of Mexico, in 1531, an Aztec convert to Christianity, named Juan Diego, was climbing up a hill long associated with the Aztec mother goddess, Tonantzin. As he climbed, he heard someone call his name and looked up to see the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen, hovering in the sky, a “woman clothed with the sun” and standing on the moon. She told him that she was the “Mother who Loved All,” and said, “All who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart.” Then she sent him to tell the Spanish bishop about her appearance; but the bishop only dismissed him as an ignorant peasant. Then she sent him back again, and this time the bishop asked for some proof of her appearance. So she had Juan Diego collect all the wildflowers he could find on the hill in his tilma, his cloak made of cactus fiber, and she arranged the flowers in the tilma somehow and sent him to the bishop once again with this ‘sign.’ When Juan Diego opened his cloak, the wildflowers were all gone and Castilian roses from Spain fell from it on the floor, and on the cloak itself was an image of the Mother of All, just as Juan Diego had seen her in the sky. Then everyone believed him and a church honoring the Our Lady of Guadalupe was built on the ruins of the Temple of Tonantzin at the place of the appearance.

“To the Spanish Catholics, she seemed to be an appearance of Mary, the Mother of God, in the form of the Black Madonna that was in the monastery of Guadalupe in Spain—a sign that she and her blessings had followed them across the ocean to this new land. To the Aztec people, she seemed a sign that Tonantzin, the mother goddess, was still with them, even if she now dressed in the strange new clothing of the Spanish. Because she appeared to Juan Diego as a meztiza, a ‘mixed one,’ being morena, dark haired and having some of the coloring of the native people, but with European features, she became the symbol of a long process of healing for a land that had been bathed in the blood of European conquest. She became the Patroness of Mexico, the mother of the meztizos, the symbol of a new people who would soon be neither European nor Indigenous, but a mixture. For although there were would continue to be pockets of isolated cultures in Mexico, the future of the land and the people would be determined by their mixing, and by their wrestling with the competing and conflicting desires of their dual heritage.

“This is Our Lady of Guadalupe as I conceive of her. She is described as a beautiful 16-year-old young woman wearing a blue mantle covered in stars. I have more clearly emphasized the mixture of Baroque European and Indigenous folk styles of artwork and symbols, and have also made her traditional association with the famous agave plant (from which tequila is made) much more explicit.”

— Netanel Miles-Yépez

“Ajedrez / Chess.” Oil on Canvas. 30” x 40” (2009)
       
     
“Ajedrez / Chess.” Oil on Canvas. 30” x 40” (2009)

“The basic imagery of ‘Ajedrez’ comes from a dream I had when I was young. In it, I saw my grandfather as a muerto, a ‘dead one,’ being fed by my aunt. In the painting, however, it is my mother sitting at a chess table—he loved to play chess—feeding him his own ‘queen,’ representing the feminine. A window in the room looks out on his beautiful hometown of Guanajuato in colonial Mexico.

“My grandfather was an educated man in Mexico, having studied philosophy in the university, but was forced to leave during the bloody Mexican revolution. In the United States of the early-to-mid 20th-century, he could only find work in a factory and lived a somewhat dingy existence, somehow made worse by the knowledge of a world of grandeur within him.

“Though he was an incredible man—almost legendary in my family—he was a poor father who could not manage to give his daughters the affection they needed. Thus, the painting ultimately depicts the victory of his daughters over him, feeding him his own queen. That is to say, they all became women of courage and substance who made good lives for their families.

“The interesting part of the dream was that, although I had probably seen Dia de los Muertos, ‘Day of the Dead’ imagery as a child in Mexico, I was not aware of the holiday itself or the custom of ‘feeding the dead’ when I had the dream. And yet, the dream’s imagery was exactly in accord with the traditional beliefs!”

— Netanel Miles-Yépez

“Hacia el Norte / Driving North”  Oil on Canvas.  30” x 40” (2013)
       
     
“Hacia el Norte / Driving North” Oil on Canvas. 30” x 40” (2013)

“ ‘Hacia el Norte’ is another image from a dream—heading up to northern Michigan with my mother. She had a black ‘79 Camaro, which we had actually driven up north, and I remember the pines off the side of the road as we drove up to Traverse City when I was six or seven. But in the dream, the idyllic imagery soon turns ominous. I notice that my mother isn’t holding the wheel, but crying in deep sadness with her head bowed. Realizing the danger, I jump up in my seat, taking off my seatbelt, prepared to ‘save the day.’ A steering wheel immediately appears on the seat in front of me as if in answer to my desire. It seems destined that I will save us. But as soon as I take hold of the wheel with my small hands, I feel that wheel is locked. Defeated, I fall back into my seat . . . helpless. The last thing I feel before the dream ends is the car beginning to veer into the opposing lane.

“As a child, I could sense my mother’s depression, and obviously I wanted to help. But being just a boy, I didn’t have the tools to save our little family from the ‘dangers’ this seemed to pose to our happiness. The imagery of the dream never left me, and always begged to be painted, like some secret message written in lemon juice, needing to be held to a flame in order to be read.”

— Netanel Miles-Yépez

“The Dance of Shiva” 48” x 36” (1999)
       
     
“The Dance of Shiva” 48” x 36” (1999)

"The Lord of the Dance is the expression of the five divine activities: creation, preservation, destruction, concealing, and revealing. As Ananda Coomaraswamy points out in his classic essay, “The Dance of Shiva,” the essential significance of Shiva’s dancing image is threefold. First, it is the image of divinity’s rhythmic play, the source of all movement in the cosmos (itself represented by the aureole of flames around the image). Second, the purpose of the dance is to release the souls of humanity from the snare of cosmic illusion. Third, the place of the dance—Chidambaram—is one’s own heart, the very center of universe."

— Netanel Miles-Yépez