Programs & Services

Qué Chola: Celebrating Strength, Power, and Resilience

At the National Hispanic Cultural Center

Gaspar Enríquez, La Smiley, 1996.

Qué Chola is an exhibition at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum in Albuquerque that features Cholas and homegirls in art and pop culture and celebrates the Chola as a symbol of strength, power, and resilience in the face of racial, gender, and economic adversity.

The term Chola is commonly used to refer to women of a particular subculture in the U.S. often characterized by cultural pride, tough behavior, and a distinctive style. The last few years have seen a surge in interest in the Chola persona and aesthetic in art, music, fashion, and popular culture. Exploring her presence in art sheds light on what she offers as an expression of Chicana identity that, in many ways, challenges normative understandings of femininity and broadens conceptions of what it means to be Chicana in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Many Chicana feminist scholars discuss the Chola, and her World War II-era precursor, the Pachuca, to show how their challenge to racism and poverty is interlinked with a resistance to gender norms and dominant expectations of femininity. These scholars notice that despite the figure’s presence in mainstream popular culture and being the target of negative stereotypes, the complexity of what and who she represents is a story that largely remains untold.

The exhibition features artworks by 29 artists from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado. Themes include aesthetics, popular culture, women’s solidarity, gender, practices of self-making, and cultural pride.

“The exhibition is really about honoring the impact of a figure that can help us think differently about who we are and the social structures we are a part of,” says Jadira Gurulé, curator at the NHCC Art Museum. “For some, the word Chola may be foreign or conjure up a stereotype. For other museum visitors, there may be an intimate familiarity and cultural connection. Regardless of individual experience, we hope the exhibition provides an opportunity for learning and reflection.”

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m–5 p.m. $6 Adults (17+), $5 for NM Residents (17+), Free for: Youth (16 & under), Seniors (60+) on Wednesdays, Veterans & US Active Duty Military Personnel through Labor Day, and NM Residents on the first Sunday of each month.

Qué Chola is on view now through Aug. 4, 2019, Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

New Mexico CulturePass

Your ticket to New Mexico's exceptional Museums and Historic Sites.
From Indian treasures to space exploration, world-class folk art to awesome dinosaurs—our museums and monuments celebrate the essence of New Mexico every day.
More Info »

Cultural Atlas of New Mexico Mobile App

Where do you belong?
The Cultural Atlas of New Mexico leads you to historic and cultural places throughout the Land of Enchantment. Organized by region, proximity and interest, the Cultural Atlas will help you find where you belong.

Get it on Google Play

Featured DCA Exhibitions

Social & Sublime: Land, Place, and Art

Social & Sublime: Land, Place, and Art exemplifies how artists in the late 19th through the 20th century have
more »

Girard’s Modern Folk

Girard’s Modern Folk examines the particular ways in which renowned mid-century American designer Alexander
more »

Community through Making From Peru to New Mexico

Community through Making brings together local and Peruvian artists to explore how art shapes healthy and vibrant
more »

Setting the Standard: The Fred Harvey Company and Its Legacy

Will Rogers noted that Fred Harvey “kept the West in food—and wives.” But the company’s Harvey
more »