DEC. 16 – APR. 14, 2012



Lotería is a game of chance where players mark pictures on a game board as a cantor (singer/caller) draws symbols from a deck of cards. Traveling from Italy through France and Spain Lotería reached Latin America in the mid-18th century and became firmly entrenched in Mexico within 100 years. Different regions developed a unique assortment of culturally significant symbols and figures for the cards, including human characters, plants, animals and everyday objects. The most recognizable Lotería set was produced by Don Clemente based in Querétaro, Mexico and featured simple drawings on a sky blue background. Its iconic visual vocabulary includes El Corazón (the heart) and La Sirena (the mermaid), symbols that we now identify as essentially “Mexican”.

For this interpretation of the Permanent Collection, the curators identified artworks that correspond to symbols in the Lotería deck. Some, like El Nopal (the cactus), are literal visual representations. Several objects are linked to a card based on their shape or material, while others are connected by their concept. Cups for Agamemnon by the Brazilian artist Tunga, shares a similar form with El Cazo (the pot) and both are made of metal. El Sol (the sun) is represented by Delta Solar, a sculpture based on the Inca Sun Cult by Venezuelan artist Alejandro Otero.

In creating a “deck” that is unique to MOLAA and its environment, symbols that illustrate life in Southern California were added. “El Mickey”, embodied by Uruguayan artist Gustavo Tabares’ video Mick, recognizes Disney’s cultural influence while La Pistola (the gun) acknowledges the universal issue of violence that touches Los Angeles County.  This playful view of the collection invites viewers to assess the compatibility of each work with its given card while exploring the cultural meaning of signs and symbols.


 ¡Lotería! was curated by Gabriela Martínez, Curator of Education and Rebecca Horta, Associate Curator of Education