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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

American, born 1937
"Ella" y 'El'
Mixed media

31 3/4 x 54 1/8 x 3 7/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Barrett Collection, Dallas, Texas

Arts of North America

“Ella” y ‘El’  is a significant example of the work of Celia Alvárez Muñoz in the early 1990s, offering an essay on coming of age and the rites of passage marking such events. Muñoz began the piece by creating altar-like arrangements of clothing and artifacts, which she lit and photographed. As the titles printed beneath each image suggest, the panels are divided along gender lines. The “ella” panel features a little girl’s red dress, surrounded by romantic charms and images of the Sacred Heart; 'el'  features a boy’s christening gown in front of a sun god and surrounded by knives and Day of the Dead skeletons. The cabinet doors open to reveal additional text and a collection of objects that complement and reinforce the front panel imagery. Muñoz created the piece to honor the marriage of her friends; as such,
“Ella” y ‘El’ celebrates the union of male and female.