Sarah Meghan Lee / For The Times
Art teacher Benjamin Torres discusses with his students the Lezama painting "La Madre Pródiga," at an exhibit by the same name. The painting, commissioned for the show, is one of Lezamas characteristic provocations about a subject that figures prominently in his art: motherhood. For most Mexicans, motherhood is sacred, reinforced by centuries of social custom and spiritual belief, and symbolized by the Virgin of Guadalupe. For Lezama, motherhood is a more problematic notion. As a painter, he recognizes the pictorial power of the image of the Virgin, supposedly first seen in a vision by the Indian peasant Juan Diego in 1531. In the context of Mexican history, the Virgin has been both a symbol of spiritual salvation and the emblem of the Spaniards conquest of Americas indigenous people.