The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, which was also published in El Ilustrado (August 1930), Diego Rivera predicted “an excellent future” for Isabel Villaseñor, the painter from Guadalajara. The article was devoted to new young artists, and Rivera described the artistic qualities he saw in the young painter who, with Alfredo Zalce, had created an exterior mural at a rural school in Ayotla, in the state of Mexico. Rivera noted that “[Chabela Villaseñor] has also shown skill in her use of colored cement and whitewash on the outer wall of a school, where her work is open to the elements and to life itself, denying life’s efforts to limit her artistic skill and instead creating art where life flowers . . . . ” It should be noted that this incident turned Villaseñor into the first woman mural painter in the country.
The artist Isabel Villaseñor (1909–1953) trained at the Centro Popular de Pintura de San Antonio Abad and was surely at the Academia de San Carlos (then called the Escuela Central de Artes Plásticas) in 1929, the year that Rivera was appointed director of the Academy. It is likely that Diego Rivera (1886–1957) encouraged her development as a painter, printmaker, and illustrator. This article is of interest because it documents Rivera’s support for the young woman, especially as regards her mural painting. The mural in question—which has been destroyed but which survives in a few photographs—was created with colored cement, an unusual technique. It also showed the influence of pulque [agave sap] bar paintings and included rural themes painted in a naïve style. The mural touched Rivera, perhaps because of its traditional quality and rather unorthodox technique, and because of the training that both painters had received. For artists of that period, Rivera’s endorsement was a coup in terms of professional recognition. This article was published in El Universal newspaper on September 25, 1930.