Jane Madrigal (USA/Mexico)

October 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

XilonenWoodcut on Amate Paper: 18 in x 24 in, 45.72 cm x 60.96 cm, 2012.

A young Xilonen wearing a ceremonial head dress blows the conch shell. She is calling forth both the living and the dead as well as the divine and cosmic energies. The time is now. The four directions have been opened. This image is of my daughter’s first ceremony has she prepares for her coming of age initiation.

On September 22, 2012, my daughter celebrated her 13th birthday with a Xilonen ceremony. She prepared herself for over a year by doing sweat lodges, learning the Danza, participating in ceremony, and growing corn.


The Xilonen is dedicated to young women to celebrate coming of age. This rite of passage ceremony seeks to empower young women to become contributing members to our society and at the same time to help them be proud of who they are and how important they are in the community. They are taught respect and service for others.

The ceremony of Xilonen or Chicomecoatl has its roots in pre-Columbian indigenous culture. Xilonen is a Nahuatl word, the language of the Aztecs, and means young tender ears of maíz (corn). The purpose of this ceremony was to assure a return of the waters and good corn harvest in the coming months. Those more fortunate had the duty to share what they had with the less fortunate. These ceremonies were characterized by the sharing of food and the giving of gifts for 8 days.

In modern practice, the focus has been the continuance of traditions and teachings with the children of our community. We hope to “plant” the seeds of understanding about our indigenous heritage with the hope that they will “grow” in this knowledge in the future. The corn is the most important plant of the Americas so it is the focus of the ceremony. It is symbolic of our relationship to this land and is a symbol of our people.

Jane Madrigal: In Her Own Words

I am a wounded healer, Xicana artist and muralist, radical woman warrior, and revolutionary earth mother. My work is a reflection of my values, which embodies a deep reverence for indigenous culture, the power of women, and a vision of a better future for the next generations.

I began painting in my early twenties after my first trip to Mexico. Inspired by the story of my ancestors, I began painting indigenous imagery and religious icons as a way for me to embrace my culture, educate my community about our people’s struggles, and honor our history which would otherwise be lost.


My community work began in Austin in the 90’s, where I became a pioneer in the graffiti art movement receiving national recognition for my work with at-risk youth through my graffiti art program, SKAM Productions. I continue to work with youth through my program Art in Action a graffiti arts program created to provide at-risk youth with positive means of self- expression through the production of murals. Check out this link: “Transformation: Taggers forgo spray cans for artist’s brush

I was mentored by the late Marsha Gomez and other curanderas and received extensive training in art of traditional plants and healing at Alma de Mujer Center for Social Change. I continue to work with and grow my own medicinal plants and produce a line of herbal remedies under the name Home Girl Healing. I teach workshops designed to be a comprehensive overview of traditional plants and healing with an emphasis on Indigenous knowledge. Throughout history, herbs and sacred plants have had an important place in the medicine of our people. The preparation of these medicines were carried on, developed and evolved over thousands of centuries. These medicines were part of our ceremonies for a good way of life and handed down to us from generation to generation. I teach the basic philosophy of Curanderismo, the proper use of herbs and flowers for medicinal purpose, and the proper technique to make tinctures, salves, essential oils, cough syrups, and limpias.


The origins of ancestor worship can be traced back to indigenous peoples cultures whose Earth based religion and spirituality was rooted in honoring the spirit of the land (Mother Earth) and ancestors (The Dead/Los Muertos). It is founded on the belief that the dead live on and are able to influence the lives of later generations. Our dead ancestors have special powers to influence the events in our life and control our well-being. Protection of the family is one of their main functions. They are intermediaries between the living and the divine powers, and can communicate through dreams and by possession.

The traditional Mexican holiday El Día de los Muertos (celebrated on November 2nd) honors the dead (ancestors) through the gathering of family and friends to pray for and remember those who have passed on to the spirit world. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private home altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Sugar Skulls

I teach Honoring Our Ancestors workshops to discuss the traditions of ancestor veneration and the importance in cultivating family loyalty and continuity of the family lineage. Participants receive the cultural knowledge and understanding of Dia de los Muertos and the historical connection to the ancestors. They receive information on basic home altar building requirements used in creating traditional altars for the dead.

The workshop includes a sugar skull painting session where participants decorate their own personal sugar skull in remembrance of a departed love one as well as participate in building a community altar. Check out this link for more information about this work.

Current Projects and Exhibits

 Journey to the Underworld and Other Forbidden Places Before the End of Time. This solo exhibit the opens November 30, 2012 and run thru Jan. 2013 at Bihl Haus Arts in San Antonio, Texas.


Journey to the Underworld and Other Forbidden Places Before the End of Time is a cosmic journey through time and collective consciousness. The installation will feature a temple to Coyolxauhqui, goddess of the moon, as well as other sacred indigenous feminine deities.

Journey to the Underworld

Honoring the ancient belief that held sacred the feminine principle and equated it with spiritual power and reverence, this is a journey through time where women are goddess and warriors instead of wives or whores. 

Remembering the ancestors and acknowledging those who have paved the way for us to be here today as we prepare for transform. Women will be the salvation of the world. 

The future is female. We will heal and transform through our journey to the underworld.

 Dia de los Muertos: Visual Artists Honor Musicians. South Texas Popular Culture Center ~ 1017 E Mulberry, San Antonio, Texas, 78209

Local visual artists have created altars to remember and honor deceased musicians and others who have contributed to the South Texas Sound. I created an altar for Selena. She was a revolutionary Tejana singer who broke through gender, racial, and language barriers. She was named the “top Latin artist of the ’90s” and “Best-selling Latin artist of the decade” all before her death at age 23. 


Selena’s music and legacy continues to shape and influence the lives across multiple generations of Tejanos. She is a cultural icon and musical legend of my generation.

Revolutionary Women Woodcuts. Scheduled to open Tuesday, March 12, 2013 and run through the month of June @Promega Corporation.

In January 2012, Dr. A. E. Gomez, historian and professor at Arizona State University approached me with the idea of creating woodcut prints of revolutionary women in history. As a historian, he felt there was a need to recognize the revolutionary contributions that women have made throughout history. Dr. Gomez is a collector of my work and thought as a female artist and cultural arts educator whose creations contain strong female imagery, I would be the ideal person to create this significant body of work.

I had never created a woodcut but was intrigued by the idea of producing this radical art. I applied for technical assistance from the City of San Antonio’s Office of Cultural Affairs and was awarded a $1,000 grant to travel to Arizona to work with Native American Master Printer Damian Charette at his Tortuga Studios and Press in Mesa, AZ. I did a week long intensive workshop and produced the first five woodcuts in this series of work. While working with Damain, I was offered the opportunity to exhibit my woodcuts during women’s history month in Madison, Wisconsin.

The woodcut or xylograph is the oldest technique used for old master prints. It was a favorite printmaking medium during and after the revolution in Mexico, particularly in the Taller de Gráfica Popular, when members from South America, the Caribbean and the United States, used art as a method to educate the public about culture and politics. This legacy continued during the Chicano/a Movement of the 1960s and 70s.

This exhibition, created through these historic and under-represented technologies of reproduction, offers a different genealogy linking politics and art through a project emphasizing the collective struggles, survival and solidarity of women who organized for transformative social change. Combining the woodcut techniques with popular education to promote women’s history and the importance of memory for both inspiration and survival, this project emphasizes how women have always been on the front lines of social movement organizing.

Through the creation and documentation of the stories of our sisters in their struggles we become conscious of their legacies, create an occasion to honor their organizing as lifework, and pass on the record of learning and technique to the next generation. This exhibition will feature the first 25 Revolutionary Women woodcuts created in this series of prints focusing on revolutionary women who lived during the 19th and 20th centuries. Check out this link for this project.

A Poem By The Artist…

Witches are the Guardians of the Village (for Doña Enriqueta)

It was the year 2010, when things started to come full circle.

Things started to connect or reconnect to those things that were left undone from another time now gone, the past I think it’s called.

The doors that got shut on unfinished projects and missions.

The path that became blocked by susto or some other kind of emotional issue that laid buried deep within my existence, my energy.

Those little traumas, or maybe big traumas, that happened and kept me frozen in time for that moment of shock.

The worst enemy.

I remember that moment of fright

and liberate myself from the susto.

Death always plays a role on some level.

Transformation is the key.

The ancestors are here to help me.

But I must learn to listen to universe.

To understand it’s laws.

God, or the divine soul I am looking for is me.

We are all part of that energy that comes from the most profound place in the universe.

So we must offer up respect because that’s what’s going to cure us.

And conduct ourselves with consciousness.

After all, we are a garden of flowers

Nothing is impossible and everything is sacred

I remember grandmother.

I hug you and suddenly I am grounded again.

I am rooted firmly in the earth.

I remember and the susto slowly releases itself

My kidneys no longer hurt from holding on to the fear for so many years

I remember grandmother

That long ago women played an important role in society.

That mother nature is everything for us.

And that we must nourish ourselves with love.

After all, how much are we really worth?

I remember grandmother

And I will offer up a prayer of gratitude every morning and every night

And I will use the color purple to heal myself and others

I will wear red for protection and keep my circle of energy closed

And I will be the guardian of the village.

Jane Madrigal

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You are currently reading Jane Madrigal (USA/Mexico) at Diálogo 365: CARPE DIEM @ Art in City Hall.


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