Homenaje a Las Chili Queens
The Chili Queens of San Antonio made their first appearance as cooks for the soldiers in the first Presidio de Bexár and continued their chili stands in the San Antonio plazas throughout the 19th-20th centuries. Their food gained so much notoriety that it is believed their recipe is the reason chili became the state dish of Texas, and it started in San Antonio because of these women. By the time the city health department shut them down in the mid 1930's, that had put a stop to a nearly 200 year tradition for the chili queens.
For Public Art San Antonio exhibition, I created 5 festive aprons with historical images of the Queens themselves with embroidered embellishments. The main centerpiece is a 10ft. apron that suspends from the ceiling. This over-sized cloth has the embroidered quote, "...it is thought, my most historians, that the earliest versions of chili were made by the very poorest people." This speaks of the fact that these Mexican women were subject to occupational segregation and making some of the poorest food was their only reasonable way to make a living outside of their domestic lives. Yet, the work of these entrepreneurial women became a San Antonio tradition that reverberates today.