BOTÁNICA LOS ANGELES: LATINO POPULAR RELIGIOUS ART IN THE CITY OF ANGELS

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By Patrick A. Polk et al.

Material expressions of spiritual belief are integral components of the Los Angeles landscape. Cathedrals, temples, churches, and shrines dot the city, but they are not the only sites where notions of the divine, or at least the supernatural, are made visible. Reflecting the broad ethnic and cultural reconfiguration of Southern California in recent years, botánicas have emerged as one of the most frequent purveyors of sacramental items, and their role in supporting and shaping the ways numerous residents, Latino or otherwise, envision and interact with the sacred in everyday life is increasingly obvious.

Best described as an ever-evolving combination of spiritual center, religious supply house, and alternate healthcare facility, the botánica is generally associated with folk Catholicism and other Latin American religious traditions. The hundreds of botánicas in Southern California are sites of spirit-infused artistry, ceremonial activity, and community building, especially among Latinos. This book explores these fascinating venues and their role in transmitting, transforming, and critiquing traditional faiths.

Patrick Arthur Polk is visiting assistant professor of world arts and cultures at UCLA. Other contributors include Donald J. Cosentino, Ysamur Flores-Peña, Miki Garcia, Claudia J. Hernandez, Michael Owen Jones, and Yves Marton.

Polk, Patrick et al.: Botánica Los Angeles, Latino Popular Religious Art in the City of Angels

140 pages, 8 x 10 inches
ISBN 0-9748729-0-3, paper, $30.00

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