Where are they now? Updates from Alma Lopez, Queer Santas: Holy Violence (2014-2015)

“Where are they now?” is a new series, following the recent work of artists who have been displayed in the Doug Adams Gallery over the years. This is the sixth post in the series. Stay tuned for our final update next week!

Alma at work in her studio

In the winter of 2014-2015, Alma Lopez brought the Doug Adams Gallery to life with her vibrant, colorful paintings. Highlighting women and girls persecuted for deviating from societal norms, Lopez’s exhibition linked saints and historical figures to contemporary concerns about the normalization of violence against women. Her work continues to address these themes, which have only become more pressing over the last few years. It was only a week ago that an article in the Washington Post about the life of Mexican-born Julia Pastrana caught our attention, reminding us of a piece by Alma that reified the woman whose life was characterized by dehumanization and degradation.

Julia Pastrana, Alma Lopez, acrylic on canvas banner, 2011

Alma now works as a UCLA Assistant Professor in Residence at the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies, with a quarter appointment in LGBTQ Studies. Here, she teaches art-related courses such as Queer Art, Chicana Art and Artists, Art and Censorship and the graduate-level course, Digital Methodologies.

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1772)

This summer, Alma has derived inspiration from her partner, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, whose recent work on the 17th century Mexican nun, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz has revealed hidden depths. After completing historical research that included reading Sor Juana’s writing and poetry, Alicia discovered much to suggest that the nun was queer. With this discovery, she published the historical novel, Sor Juana’s Second DreamAlicia is currently collaborating with San Francisco-based composer Carla Lucero to translate the novel into an opera, to be produced at UCLA in Fall 2019. In conjuncture with the novel, Alma has begun working on a series of oil paintings on canvas. Both the forthcoming paintings and Alicia’s novel attempt to unravel the mystery and complexity of the woman termed “the first great Latin American poet.”


Thanks, Alma, for keeping us updated with your recent work!

by Lydia Webster