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A Closer Look: the De Soto Conquest

Photo of the vintage Chrysler New Yorker Lewis deSoto transformed

Art Professor Lewis deSoto transformed a vintage 1965 Chrysler New Yorker into a sculpture that traces the heritage of his surname. deSoto, a distant descendent of the Cahuilla tribe of Native Americans, customized the car with designs, upholstery and other elements that refer to Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto and the former Chrysler model named after him.

The "De Soto Conquest" is part of an exhibit called "No Reservations: Native American History and Culture in Contemporary Art," on display at Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., through Feb. 25, 2007.

deSoto's scuplture caught the eye of New York Times art critic Ben Genocchio. "The conquistador's sword is super imposed over the word 'conquest' on both rear side panels of the car," Genocchio wrote on Sept. 16. "Nearby is a painted disc composed of traditional basket designs by the Cahuilla of Southern California … encircled by the Latin word for smallpox. Like many native people in the Americas, the Cahuilla were hit hard by the disease in the 1880s and 1890s."

-- Matt Itelson


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Last modified October 30, 2006 by University Communications