Iowa Artists 2022: Miriam Alarcón Avila contains photography, masks, sculpture, the stories and poems on which she bases her imagery, and a video capturing her collaborations with her subjects.

Through an approach based in photography that also incorporates costume, writing, and video, Miriam Alarcón Avila captures the stories of Latinx people in her Iowa community. She began her “Immigrant Luchadores” series in eastern Iowa in 2017. Her subjects tell the artist about themselves, and she uses their words to create a luchador persona, making them a mask that expresses the heroic and poignant nature of their character.

In professional Mexican wrestling (lucha libre), the luchador mask defines a wrestler’s identity and helps them create and maintain a persona. These masks (máscaras) date back to the beginnings of lucha libre in the early part of the 20th century, and have a historical significance to Mexico in general, dating to the period of the Aztecs.

Alarcón Avila is also the Art Center’s commissioned artist to design and build the ofrenda for the 2022 Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at the Art Center on October 30. The offenda will be on view October 28 – November 14.