Erin Currier

Fiesta Queens III

Mixed media collage on panel, 84"h x 72"w, Item No. 11598,

Fiesta Queens III No time in recent memory have the Fiestas been as controversial as they are are today: with eight protestors having been arraigned on felony charges this past Summer at Santa Fe's Fiestas. I respect and admire freedom of speech and direct action as an expression of one’s belief system; one aspect I have long admired about Fiestas is that it is in and of itself a cultural forum that allows for that engagement of debate and discussion. Like so many cultural institutions worldwide (under threat time and again by Nazis, Isis, and well-meaning members of the politically correct contingent)—from Greco-Roman architecture, to Thanksgiving Day in the USA, to the poetry of T.S.Eliot, to the arches of Palmirya, to the literature of Mark Twain, to the Great Wall of China, the Fiestas dubious beginnings arose from conquest and exclusion, and yet, like the above, they have morphed and transformed into something else entirely and of significant value: the feasting of harvest foods, the championing and celebration of the Spanish language, the performing, playing, and dancing of Mariachi, a coming together of local Hispanic communities that welcome their Native and Anglo friends and brethern alike to join in the festivities. 

Once again, it is the girls who are trapped at the heart of the controversy—as is inevitably the case. My reasoning behind paying homage to Taos Fiesta Queens and Princessas every year is that I admire that there is a forum like Fiestas that encourages and rewards an adolescent girl’s value system that is rooted in language—on bilingualism, family, community, skill, and spirituality; a value system increasingly rare in our digital age of social media. Today, teenage girls are far more often than not encouraged to adopt a value system based upon looks, popularity, possessions, “branding”, and profitability. We live in an age in which an adolescent girl can rocket to celebrity status with hundreds of millions of followers on youtube based on how cute her butt looks in a pair of yoga pants. In sharp contrast, New Mexico’s Fiesta Queens and Miss Navajo Nations, articulate themselves in the language of their ancestors, play music, roast chile, slaughter sheep, and work toward their aspirations of helping others in their communities: in short, they Fight Like Girls!!! Que Vivan Las Fiestas!