The John P. McGovern, MD, Center for Humanities and Ethics welcomed Patrick McGrath Muñiz as the third presenter of its Arts & Resilience program on Jan. 26, via Cisco Webex.
Muñiz, originally from Puerto Rico, is a Houston-based artist who works primarily with oil paintings on canvas and retablos. His work addresses issues such as colonialism, consumerism, and climate change, and are inspired after Old Master and Spanish colonial paintings.
Throughout the presentation, Muñiz displayed over two dozen of his works while describing the background and history of each piece. Though usually centered around colonialism and the impact it had on both the island of Puerto Rico and his own life, Muñiz’s piece often display satire and anachronisms to question the adopted capitalist doctrines and consumerist habits that have altered history and nature.
A turning point in Muñiz’s life and career came in 2017 when Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. His family on the island lost everything, including most of his work. Despite the tragedy of losing his family home and his studio, Muñiz found inspiration when he was able to save his first tarot deck and bring it back with him; one of the only things he was able to salvage.
After finding the tarot deck, he began thinking of the tarot as a personal narrative and how they describe not only his own life, but also allowed him to reflect on human history and interpret the current age. The inspiration led to his latest project Tarot Neocolonial de las Americas, a tarot card deck that includes 78 cards and a 92-page book exploring the “period when the New and Old World collided, bringing about the dawn of globalization.”
“Tarot has become my muse and inspiration,” Muñiz said. “It’s bringing past and future together, and it’s trying to see what is to come, but it is very ingrained into the past.”
Muñiz obtained a BFA (magna cum laude) in fine arts from the School of Fine Arts of San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2003 before receiving an MFA (summa cum laude) from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2006. His works are displayed at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, The Spanish Colonial Arts Museum in Santa Fe, N.M., and the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum in Arizona, as well as a number of private collections.
The final installment of the 2021-22 Arts & Resilience Program features Thedra Cullar-Ledford, April 6 via Webex. Cullar-Ledford creates meaningful art that combines careful craft with conceptual integrity and often consists of arranged collections of everyday objects, presented in some sort of a container so that it makes a statement. To register for the event, visit the McGovern Center’s website.