Celia Alvarez Muñoz collected many images as inspiration for Quince, among which stood traditional quinceañera tiaras, contemporary tattoos and graffiti books. She calls the act of collecting these images “visual shopping” and keeps the clippings around her home and studio to aid in the print’s conceptual development. “You have to allow the work to tell you what it wants to be,” says Muñoz of her creative process.
In her artwork, the word “quince” is curved into an arch and decorated with scrolling vines to mimic the look and shape of a tiara, while the gradation of color within the letters echo the unveiling of la quinceañera at her celebration. The traditional tattoo image of a red rose is also symbolic of a woman’s coming-of-age through the sweet and sexual innuendos they represent. A rose opening from a small bud and the deflowering of a young woman both parallel a quinceañera’s development. The scrolling vine designs decorate the word “quince” in the same way young women decorate themselves with cosmetics and fancy clothing for their quinceañeras. Using vines in particular is significant because, according to Muñoz, vines grow and attach themselves to new things the same way a young woman will step outside of her family to form new roots. The blue bird represents fertility, as birds help to spread seeds. For Muñoz, getting a tattoo and celebrating one’s fifteenth birthday are both rights of passage. She chose to place the tattoo on the woman’s lower back because “it’s really sexy and…that’s what that age is about…sexual awakening.”
Celia Alvarez Muñoz is a self-taught artist from El Paso, TX. She grew up drawing on walls as a child until her aunt taught her to draw on paper with colored pencils. As she grew up, she would read and copy the popular comic book art of the 40’s and 50’s. In high school, she took only two art classes and followed that in college with advertising and studio art focuses. She received her B.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1964 and her M.F.A. in 1982 from the University of North Texas. Celia Alvarez Muñoz has been a pioneer in the Chicano Art Movement of the 1960s and 70s.