A radical ideologue and lifelong political agitator, Siqueiros abandoned painting in the mid-1920s, immersing himself in high-profile work as a union organizer and Communist Party leader. Following a six-month imprisonment in 1930 and his subsequent house arrest in Taxco, he returned to painting, soon reclaiming a leading role within Mexico’s Mural movement. Siqueiros frequently depicted the Mexican peasant during this period, notably in "Dos mujeres indias" (1930) and in the harrowing "Madre proletaria" (1931). "La indita", one of a number of lithographs from this period, portrays a young Indian woman from Tehuantepec, in southern Mexico. Mythologized in revolutionary culture, the exotic "tehuana" embodied indigenous femininity, seen in her traditional dress—famously adopted by Frida Kahlo—and matriarchal society. Identifiable by the enormous ceramic bowl, used to carry fruit and other goods to market, balanced atop her head, "La indita" sits in dignified profile, rendered in finely cross-hatched black lines. Tightly compressed within the frame, she draws her knees to her chest in a posture that calls to mind the artist’s own confinement during this time.
This text was created in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and written by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.