Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Visual Arts

First Advisor

Lorraine Morales Cox

Second Advisor

Victoria Martinez




Meixco, revolution, pre-Columbian, indigenous, native, colonization


The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) succeeded in reclaiming the nation from foreign influence as well as creating a government mindful of the basic needs of all Mexicans. During the post-Revolutionary period, a nationalistic pride and identity emerged, known as Mexicanidad, which focused on honoring Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage and indigenous culture. This thesis examines the role of the visual arts as a creative manifestation of this vibrant expression of national identity. José Vasconcelos, Minister of Public Education (1921-1924), helped fuel this development of cultural nationalism by commissioning Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco to paint public art thereby creating the Muralist Movement. This movement educated Mexicans on their pre-Columbian history by incorporating indigenous attire, artifacts, traditions and rituals in the murals. Despite the equality that seemed to prevail in the post-Revolutionary era, female artists such as Frida Kahlo, María Izquierdo, and Olga Costa were barred from participating in the federally funded Muralist Movement. In spite of this exclusion, these artists demonstrated their Mexicanidad by incorporating different aspects of Mexican identity in their works: Kahlo emphasized native dress and Aztec symbols; Izquierdo employed Day of the Dead imagery; Costa painted native fruits and flowers. The bilingual integrated research of this thesis offers an analysis of such art works, among others, as Kahlo's Two Fridas, Izquierdo's Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows, and Costa's Fruit Seller. As a result of their efforts, Kahlo, Izquierdo, and Costa, exemplifies the success of female Mexican artists as important practitioners and contributors to universal Mexican nationalism.