“There is this question in post-modern criticism about assimilation and use of the ‘other.’ We live in a time in which cultures are struggling with the question of how to maintain their identity, and at the same time peacefully reside next to communities of different cultures. For Elizabeth Kay, the end product has come from living in and understanding a culturally diverse community. Her art is a positive example of how sharing cultural traditions can create a strong statement. I can think of no better way to express the sense of our cultural icons than by putting them in an iconic medium.”

Shannon Thomas Perich: National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution.
Excerpted from the invitation to the exhibit, “Elizabeth Kay: The Visions of Santa Iconographica,” at The Jonson Gallery of the University of New Mexico Art Museums, November 1997

The Guardian Angel
“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History presents a new showcase exhibit highlighting the painting “Santo Pinholé,” a tribute to the great American photographer Ansel Adams by New Mexican artist Elizabeth Kay. The showcase opens March 27 and continues until September 1999. “Santo Pinholé: A Saint for Photography,” examines a work painted in the style of traditional Southwestern American iconography. The painting is a whimsical look at the “secular worship” of Adams’ work. By depicting Adams as a saint, or “santo,” Kay challenges the viewer to examine the legacy of the photographer’s work on American art and culture. . . The showcase features the painting as well as Adams’ celebrated photograph “Moonrise Over Hernandez” and a portrait of the artist by Imogen Cunningham, both of which are alluded to in the painting. Shannon Perich, exhibition curator, describes the showcase as ‘“an opportunity to explore how ideas about photography, saints, Ansel Adams and New Mexican santos can cheerfully coexist in one painting.’”

Kristian Knight/Melinda Machado, Smithsonian National Museum of
American History News, February 27, 1999

“Señor Cigaríllo . . . is appearing throughout New Mexico on a T-shirt touting the evils of smoking. The shirt was the brainchild of epidemiology professor and chair Jonathan Samet, MD, and Elizabeth Kay, a New Mexico-based artist who specializes in recreating saintly and not-so-saintly medieval characters. Ms. Kay created Señor Cigaríllo based on a picture of death from a 15th century French manuscript. The representation of death as a skeleton is recognized among New Mexicans, one reason Dr. Samet and Ms. Kay chose the image to portray the dangers of smoking.”

Excerpted from: “At the School: Anti-Smoking Effort Takes on a New Look,”
Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health Newsletter, February 1996

“Kay’s retablos are very small, with dimensions of only a few inches, created in the traditional way on a surface of wood. In rendering them Kay indeed appropriates elements of regional pictorial style, but the saints that inspire these works, she points out, are much older than the northern New Mexico communities that venerate them. ‘”In a real sense,”’ she says, ‘”the saints have been appropriated by these communities through a vast network of sources. Many of the figures revered here are offshoots of shrines in Spain and Mexico. That’s the most recent source, and prior to that, they came from the Middle East, Europe, the British Isles -- from all over.”
The saints represent, she says, ‘”levels of meaning that are continuous through history.”’

Excerpted from: William Clark: “Santero Reinvents Popular Folk Icons,”
Albuquerque Journal, Friday, October 12, 1990