The Work of Translation in the Image-Text Art of Celia Alvarez Muñoz


  • Marlene Hansen Esplin Brigham Young University


domesticana, rasquachismo, image-text translation, Chicana/o art, Celia Alvarez Muñoz


Whether in her small-scale art-books and photographs or in her larger site-specific projects, mixed-media artist Celia Alvarez Muñoz employs linguistic ambivalence as a primary theme and as a means of communicating the aesthetic, semi-autobiographical, and socio-political concerns of her works. She draws viewers into the acts of translation and representation that drive her creative works and carefully stages for them the conflicts and confluences of identity that permeate the contested space of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. She adds bicultural legibilities to the various aesthetic movements that inform her works, including pop art, minimalism, book art, public art, conceptual art, postconceptual art, and other modes and movements. Translation functions as a guiding aesthetic and as a crucial means of signification in her works, and her works, in turn, reflect on the work of translation. Examining the projects of Alvarez Muñoz serves as a fertile point of departure for thinking about how the multilingual and multimodal negotiations of visual and performance artists provide alternative ways of conceptualizing translation and how the works of these artists magnify the transnational and bicultural aspects of aesthetic movements.

Author Biography

Marlene Hansen Esplin, Brigham Young University

Esplin is assistant professor of interdisciplinary humanities at Brigham Young University. Her research focuses on problems of translation or rewriting between US and Latin American literatures. Recent projects include an article that discusses the advent of the imprint AmazonCrossing and an article examining intersections between translation and ethnography in the writings and translations of Fanny Bandelier. Her work has been published in Translation Review, Transfer, and MELUS