Consuelo (Chelo) González Amezcua, artist and poet, was born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, on June 13, 1903, the third of six children born to Jesús González Galván and Julia Amezcua Saenz. In 1913 her family immigrated to Del Rio, Texas, where she spent the rest of her life. She attended school for six years and learned to read and write in English but received no formal art training. In the 1930s she was awarded a scholarship to attend San Carlos Academy in Mexico City but turned it down due to her father's death. She worked as a clerk in a local department store in Del Rio and dedicated her free time to her drawings and poetry. During the summers she traveled throughout Mexico for artistic inspiration.
González is best known for her "filigree art": complex illustrations reminiscent of the intricate metal work found in Mexican jewelry. Beginning in 1956 she carved shell stone from the banks of the Pecos River into elaborate designs. Eight years later she abandoned the arduous carving medium in favor of intricate drawings made with ballpoint pens on paper or cardboard. Initially she used black ink on a white ground, occasionally adding red, blue, and green inks. During the last five years of her life she added crayons and felt-tip pens to her repertoire and introduced many more colors into her designs.
Her subjects are elaborately drawn, composed of tiny lines within curving patterns. They reveal her fascination with dreams and myths, as well as the dramatis personae of pre-Columbian history: gods, muses, and such royal personages as Cleopatra, the Náhuatl poet, and King Netzalhualcóyotl. Birds, flowers, fanciful architecture, starry skies, hands, and beautiful women were her favorite motifs, either as subjects, or backgrounds for works with historical or philosophical themes. González honored her Mexican-American heritage in works such as Mexico Americans (1969), in which a hand holds a banner representing North and South America, united by a design radiating from a medallion inscribed "Mexico Americans." She placed an eagle, the national symbol for Mexico and the United States, over the map, and beneath the banner wrote "Soy Americana de descendencia Mexicana/ y por doquiera que voy se llevar con dignidad/ el nombre de los Estados Unidos y Mexico" ("I am an American of Mexican descent/ and wherever I go I take with me the dignity/ of the United States and Mexico").
González often incorporated her poetry into the drawings, and wrote personal thoughts or explanations on the back of each piece. She also compiled a book of her verse titled Cantares y Poemas. Her poems focused on themes such as her love of border culture, the lives of various friends and family members, her faith in religion and humanity, and the Chicano Movement. She won prizes for her poetry in Mexico but did not receive recognition for her drawings until 1968, when her work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. She subsequently exhibited her work in Monterrey, Nuevo León (1968); the Hemisfair, San Antonio (1968); Springfield, Massachusetts (1969); the Wilson Memorial Art Center in Beaumont, Texas (1970); and Trinity University, San Antonio (1973). Chelo González Amezcua died on June 23, 1975. Her work has since been exhibited in the Bronx Museum of Art, New York (1988); several gallery exhibitions in New York City (1991); and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio (1991). In 1991 the Del Rio Council for the Arts organized an exhibition of her work that traveled to various Texas museums in 1992 and 1993. Examples of her work may be found in the Whitehead Memorial Museum, Del Rio, and many private collections.
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