Chavez, an indigenous Mapuche Chilean, was a goat-herder as a child but later grew to fame for his prints. Chavez worked past his humble beginnings by attending University of Concepción and working nights. Later, he attended Pratt University in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago before settling in Germany. This print, translated as “The Creator of Life” depicts a flowering plant with an anthropomorphised face. The face is bisected, one half is the moon, and the other is the sun. The combination of plants, night, day, and man give an impressively complete picture of life in such a simple image. The print was created with a woodcut technique. Chavez carved a block of wood with his design’s negative and then did multiple, layering prints to achieve the variety of color. The subject matter of Chavez’s prints are landscapes, seascapes, children, and lovers. He said that his work has an intimate relationship with his thoughts and the land. Today, a scholarship for Mapuche artists has been established in his name at the Playa Ancha University of Educational Studies and The Chilean National Council on Culture and the Arts offers an annual Santos Chávez Prize to a selected indigenous artist.
-Susan Bonta, Class of 2018