Modern Interpretation of Belief and Ritual
As mentioned, curanderismo represents key parts of Hispanic culture. In an interview for podcast The Witch Wave, artist Rebecca Artemisa identifies as a bruja, which directly translates to “witch” but has overlap with curanderismo. Artemisa says she grew up seeing her grandparents practice curanderismo, and as she got older, she began using those practices in her artwork. Despite her grandparents’ Catholic beliefs, Artemisa draws primarily from her indigenous heritage with her use of Aztec mythology. She states she drew from it to start a “decolonization process” within herself.
Modern-day curanderismo is intrinsically tied with Catholicism and Christianity, but she didn’t connect with the religious aspects of folk healing; rather, she was drawn in by the spiritual aspects that “ste[m] hugely from indigenous cultures.” Artemisa states “so many Chicanx and Latinx and indigenous people incorporate [certain features] into their home”— such as burning sage and herbs, mint tea, candles, and shrines — whether intentionally or not because “it’s so part of who you are and so ancestral” (0:45:34–0:47:00).
Artemisa creates artworks and zines that are drawn from those experiences, but to be a curandera is a serious calling, which prevents her from “[taking] up space too much in that.” For her work, Artemisa says, can be whimsical and not completely traditional, but she is “drawing from [curanderismo], and it’s real, and it can really help people feel better” (0:50:52–0:51:01).
One of Artemisa’s zines, Curandera Sweetie is part of the LLILAS Benson’s U.S. Latinx Zine and Graphic Novel Collection. This work helps to exemplify Artemisa’s purpose in creating. While not traditional, Curandera Sweetie uses old ritual for her contemporary existence as a bruja. She focuses on community care and healing prevalent in her background rather than its colonial influences. Artemisa draws from a community that didn’t necessarily immigrate to the United States, but they still had to assimilate to a new majority. In her art, therefore, she uses that history and folklore as a resistance to that assimilation, and to the ethnic culture she descended from and lost.
Artemisa's art can be found on Instagram and Etsy @rebeccaartemisa.