A Look at the Que Chola Exhibit at the National Hispanic Cultural Center

Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center is “dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Roybal

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Roybal

Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center is “dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities.” This is done through their art museum, genealogy center, educational resources, library, and over 700 events. One such event is Qué Chola, an art exhibit featuring 28 artists and their artistic interpretations of la chola.

According to the NHCC’s description of the show, which runs from March 8 to August 8, “the Chola is a significant figure in the Latina imagination for the ways that she represents a feminine strength, power, and resilience in the face of racial, gender, and economic adversity. She is a figure that many young Latinas in the U.S. admire and emulate. The last few years have seen a surge in interest in the Chola as a figure and this exhibition will explore this dynamic from a feminist perspective through art and popular culture.”


In addition to art, in the form of paintings, photography, art on a lowrider, sculpture, and more, there is also a Qué Chola Photo Board, which gave people “an opportunity to honor the Cholas in our lives, past and present, by sharing photos of homegirls showing off their style and pride.”

Artists participating in the show include Adriana Avila and Benjamin Avila, All Chola, Amy Martinez, Kari Orvik, and Vero Majano, Andrew Montoya among others.

To celebrate this dope art show celebrating chola and Chicana culture and history, especially in the Southwest, we are going to take a look at 13 pieces of art that you will see there.


The Letter by Nanibah Chacon

Nanibah Chacon’s, The Letter (2019), is an acrylic painting on canvas, named after the doo-wop song, “The Letter,” by Vernon Green and the Medallions.” It conveys the emotion of writing to someone who is in jail and incorporates paños, Southwestern prison pen or pencil artwork on fabric. 

“Growing up in New Mexico, Chola/Cholo culture is synonymous with Xicano culture, a vernacular of the people. Subtleties in movement, clichés, style, and stance are all a nuanced language created for the people by the people, cultivated by time, understood by experience.” – Nanibah Chacon


Peacock by Antonia Fernandez

Photo: National Hispanic Cultural Center

Antonia Fernandez (pictured) created Peacock, an oil-on-canvas painted in 2018. The realistic and colorful painting showcases the painstaking detail that goes into a proper chola beauty look. 


Aqua Net, La Agencia, 50 years of Chola Hair-dos by Nancy Camacho

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Roybal

You can’t talk about the chola, Chicana, or Latina experience without mentioning Aqua Net. It is the hairspray that completed and sealed decade after decade of Latinx hairstyles. It’s a chola essential and a part of the culture’s pop culture.

“The Common thread was Aqua Net hair spray.” – Nancy Camacho


Homegirls, Adriana Avila and Benjamin Avila

Cholas need their homegirls. You have your BFF(s) to help you through life, and you stay loyal. Adriana Avila and Benjamin Avila’s Homegirls put this sentiment into a tangible form. The artwork is made up of oil paint, spray paint, acrylic, and gold metallic paint.


La Patsy y Los Homeboys by Gaspar Enriquez

Gaspar Enríquez says this piece of work deals with individuals whose lives have been a part of his environment. They’re individuals who remind him of his friends and acquaintances that he grew up with. 

“The work is not a crusade to change lives nor is it an effort to pass judgment. It is up the viewer to judge and interpret. These images invite the viewer to come into contact with some of those who populate the Chicano world.” – Gaspar Enríquez


All Chola Store

In addition to the art on display, the Que Chola exhibit features a lowrider and engagement bike and mobile store, created by the brand All Chola and ArribaNM.


I Am Not A Hood Ornament by Pola Lopez

I Am Not a Hood Ornament is a mixed-media collage by artist Pola Lopez, created in 1997. It shows the strength of Latinx women fighting against the machista idea, that women are better suited as car models and objects.


La Loca y Sweetie, Delilah Montoya

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Roybal

La Loca y Sweetie is a silver gelatin print created in 1993 by Delilah Montoya, featuring two homegirls.

“I belong to the generation of artist/cultural workers who were inspired by the Chicano Movement. However, cultura is not totally informed by our lived realities.  I understand cultural work requires a careful examination of how we define ourselves and how others outside the culture define us. Our cultural perceptions are also defined by mass media.” – Delilah Montoya


Poder, Crystal Galindo

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Roybal

Crystal Galindo’s Poder, an oil painting on canvas, features the power of a self-assured, curvy, Latina.

“My work challenges white supremacy, Eurocentric beauty standards, and the male-dominated art world.” – Crystal Galindo


What Dreams Are Made Of, Nanibah Chacon

You couldn’t have a chola art show without there being a lowrider in there somewhere. In addition to a literal lowrider, emblazoned with art, Que Chola has this painting by Nanibah Chacon, called What Dreams Are Made Of.

“Work based on a reoccurring dream I’ve had for the past 20 years…. this piece is currently on view at the National Hispanic Cultural Center as part of “Que Chola” Albuquerque, New Mexico.” – Nanibah Chacon. 

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art art exhibit art show Chicano chola mexican Mexican-American New Mexico
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