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The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Annie Lopez: Origin Story

A Lopez Favorite Things

January 13 – June 8, 2024

Annie Lopez is a storyteller. Informed by family history, remedies, and lived experiences as both a Mexican-American and fourth-generation Phoenician, her stories are told with text and images through her signature photography and cyanotype prints. Origin Story highlights two main bodies of the artist’s work: her dress forms and the Storybook series.

Lopez’s striking dresses are fashioned from vintage photographs printed as cyanotypes on tamale wrappers and woven together. The material holds a strong cultural connection, recalling tamale preparation with her family on Christmases past. While demonstrating her inherited skills as a seamstress, Lopez highlights the financial demands of the art industry. “I use materials that people can find anywhere, you can use a pencil, you can use this paper. Be more flexible with your artwork,” she says. Her use of ready-made materials focuses her craft on story and message, rather than the cost of creating.

The Storybook series imprints memories: Lopez’s experience of being singled out because of her skin tone, a time when her father found a discarded couch in the alley, her time on the Romper Room School show in 1963. Though personal and often poignant, her stories are relayed with a humorous wit. Both the dress and Storybook works invite visitors to consider their own origin stories and to think critically about how family histories are documented and remembered.

Associated Event: Virtual Conversation with Artist Annie Lopez

About the Artist:

Nationally recognized and highly awarded, Annie Lopez was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Her art practice, which focuses on the Chicano and Mexican experience in the Southwest, began in the 1980s and has taken her across the country since — including Denver, New York, and Washington, D.C. Lopez was honored by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Katonah Museum of Art in New York in 2020 and 2021. She was awarded the 2016 Arizona Governor’s Arts Award and was featured in Phoenix Magazine’s Best of the Valley 2023, The New York Times’ The Much-Vaunted American Melting Pot, and many more. Lopez believes that everyone is an artist at heart, and encourages us all to fuel our creativity using our surroundings and to tell our own stories. 

Image: Annie Lopez, Favorite Things, Cyanotype prints on tamale wrapper paper, thread, zipper, Courtesy of the Artist