Performing the sacred: the concept of journey in Codex Delilah
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The concept of journey as a means of transformation appears throughout the visual representations of all periods and cultures. This dissertation examines how Chicana artist Delilah Montoya and poet and playwright Cecilio García-Camarillo use the concept of journey in Codex Delilah, Six Deer: Journey from Mexicatl to Chicana, to create a recuperation of the roles women have played in the history of the Americas. The study establishes the similarities between subject matter, worldview, and formal structures of ancient Mesoamerican codices and Montoya’s contemporary artwork. Tracing how contemporary Chicana/o artists have adopted the ancient codex form, the dissertation asserts the importance of the phenomenon of Chicana/o codices and argues for a recognition of their place as a separate genre parallel but uniquely different from contemporary artists books. The work uses the trope of curanderismo (Mexican folk medicine) to show how the bodies Montoya depicts contain the sacred, x demonstrate the continuity of ancient healing practices, and create a genealogy of female healers. The study calls for more research on Codex Delilah, the phenomenon of Chicana/o codices, and encourages art historians to apply a more kinesthetic or body conscious approach to their work.