In Mexican-American neighborhoods throughout the United States, it isn’t rare to see murals pay homage to la Virgen de Guadalupe. But as gentrifiers push Latinos out of the neighborhoods they have called home for generations, these murals have been painted over. For one artist who has seen his Boyle Heights neighborhood change, this shift pushed him to do something.
Nico Avina, a 44-year-old from Los Angeles, has created a 7-1/2-foot Virgen de Guadalupe titled “Lupita Was Displaced.” Holding an eviction notice, the artwork makes a powerful statement. “When you do look at the Virgen, her hands are already to her chest,” he told the Los Angeles Times about the wooden creation. “She’s looking down and she’s reading this eviction notice like she just got served.”
Avina recalls seeing murals of la Virgen “on every corner,” but as the demographics of the neighborhood change, her presence has decreased. He fears that soon “she’s not going to be around here as much as she has been… As the people get displaced, so does their art. The Virgen was a reflection of that. She’s also getting displaced.”
The artwork was originally displaced at Espacio 1839. But as Avina announced on Instagram, La Lupita will make her way around Boyle Heights, visiting areas where his community has been erased.