Tattoos are a very popular way of honoring La Virgen de Guadalupe, but murals may be even more widespread, as shown by Sam Quinones‘ herculean attempt to photograph all of the murals that pay tribute to La Virgen in Los Angeles. Quinones, a journalist and author, has been photographing murals on and off since about 2010, and though he knows he’s photographed at least 50 murals, he admits that he’s lost count. The true number may be closer to 75 .

Quinones is not Catholic, but his time in Mexico made him feel connected to La Virgen. “I have a place in my heart for the Virgin, after having lived in Mexico,” he told us. “For what she means to poor people, people seeking refuge or some kind of tenderness when buffeted by the powerful winds of economic necessity, illness, or some other problem for which they have no means to a solution. She always seemed quite apart from the church.”

In Los Angeles, La Virgen is used a form of protection for small businesses. Working-class immigrants who own their own businesses use La Virgen to try to keep people from tagging their buildings.

He has seen more murals dedicated to La Virgen in LA than in Mexico, where he lived for 10 years. “So there was a notion that she was a protector of the American Dream in Los Angeles,” he said.

Check out a few of his images below:

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

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Sam Quinones

 

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