By Kiana Vakily, Museum Database Intern, McGill Visual Arts Collection
La Tarea, meaning “homework” in Spanish, is a print by Mexican artist Leticia Tarragó. Born in Veracruz in 1940, Tarragó first studied in Mexico City where, at the age of fourteen, she won the first-place prize at the annual student competition hosted by the National Institute of Fine Arts. She later spent some time working with Colombian artist Guillermo Silva, who was considered a master of intaglio printmaking, at The Advanced Graphic Art Studio. After winning several more prizes, she traveled to Warsaw, Poland to work with leading Polish graphic artists, and later to The Netherlands to study engraving. There, in 1967, she won numerous awards, including the National Engraving Prize. By 1980, she returned home to work as an art manager and researcher at the Institute of Plastic Arts at the University of Veracruz. Her success continued throughout her life, as she exhibited her work internationally, including the University of Puerto Rico, the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, the Salon Debiutow, and the Portland Art Museum, amongst many other collections. She attributes this success and her dedication to art to her family’s passion for art and culture. The locals of Veracruz consider her an icon whose work represents their identity when abroad, and brings about a sense of nostalgia for their homeland when encountered.
Many of Tarragó’s artworks are inspired by female and child figures, which she says are tools to tell stories that have to do with her personal experiences. The angels which appear in her work are described by her as a memory of her childhood that made her feel happy and safe as a girl. She also portrays many other fantastical beings, such as the one in La Tarea. This creature appears to be looming over the young girl—the same way the daunting task of homework looms over a child who doesn’t want to do it. The young girl sitting at the table is looking away in a neutral expression, possibly to not draw any attention from the creature. In the bottom right corner, there is a smaller image of a girl curled up with a weary expression, perhaps representing her inner fears at the thought of confronting the task that lays before her. Through this print, Tarragó recounts a story that is all too familiar as we dive back into our childhoods.
La Tarea is on display in the Visible Storage Gallery on the 4th Floor of the McLennan Library. The Visual Arts Collection cares for three more prints by Leticia Tarragó. Get in touch to see the other prints by this inspiring artist!
Carlos Hugo Hermida Rosales. En la pintura creo mis mundos: Leticia Tarragó. 2018. https://www.uv.mx/prensa/cultura/en-la-pintura-creo-mis-mundos-leticia-tarrago/.
Karina de la Paz Reyes Díaz.Leticia Tarragó fue homenajeada en la Feria Nacional del LibroInfantil y Juvenil. 2021. https://www.uv.mx/prensa/banner/leticia-tarrago-fue-homenajeada-en-la-feria-nacional-del-libro-infantil-y-juvenil/.