Crossing the border with divine assistance: Ex-voto paintings of Mexican immigrants to the United States
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This thesis examines the ex-voto paintings of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. to construct a picture of the daily experiences of immigrants. The production and reception of ex-votos testify to the role of art in transnational social processes. Ex-votos are products of popular religion and are offered as votives of thanks to Christ or Virgin Mary. These paintings provide art historical, ethnographical and literary evidence of socio-economic circumstances of the Mexican---United States immigration from the point of the immigrants. I argue that the effects of globalization of capital and internationalization of labor are materialized in the ex-votos of the immigrants. The painful process of immigration produces poignant visual manifestations that address dislocation and oppression. I attempt to illustrate the socio-political significance of the paintings by discussing that they are not intended to be works of art but art works expressive of the multi-leveled meanings of the movement of people across the border.