Major and Classification
Dr. Joseph Palacios
Research Gateway Project
“Creating Sacred Space: The Influence of our Lady of Guadalupe in Boyle Heights”
Murals of a brown-skinned, young woman with long black hair wearing a rose-hued dress and blue-green mantled embellished with gold stars adorn spaces throughout Boyle Heights, a city east of the concrete-laden Los Angeles River. Usually untouched by graffiti, this woman is known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, the mestiza mother of Jesus Christ who is believed to have miraculously appeared on Tepeyac Hill, north of present day Mexico City, in the year 1531 to a native named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Nearly 485 years later, Our Lady of Guadalupe still appears in Boyle Heights, a city with a multicultural past now home to a predominantly Latino neighborhood increasingly threatened by the pressures of gentrification. The focus of this project is analyzing how murals depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe create sacred space in Boyle Heights. The photo-documentation of more than thirty murals, participation in community events, and interviews with members of Boyle Heights provides critical insights into how these public renderings of Our Lady of Guadalupe influence everyday life, rather than solely focusing on her December 12thfeast day.