In a number of Mari Hernandez’s works, she alludes to “the past, the present, and the future.” Hernandez’s photograph of Silia Lopez considers the history of identification photographs, such as mugshots. Here, however, the image does not result from an act of subjugation. Hernandez draws out Lopez’s pride in the background, and her feathered hat and delicately patterned blouse identify her with the Vaqueras, the first cowgirls of Texas.
Lopez is a member of the Tāp Pı̄lam Coahuiltecan Nation, a group of Indigenous tribes and clans who have lived in the region between south Texas and northeastern Mexico for millennia, and she is also a lineal San Antonio Missions descendant. Her heritage reflects the many Indigenous groups that were forced to conform to Mission lifestyle and assimilate into Euro-American culture. In Silia, Hernandez and Lopez collaborated to bring together these layered Indigenous and colonial histories.