From Pilgrim to Pilgrim: Our Lady of Guadalupe Annual Pilgrimage was a community-wide virtual event hosted by the City of Holland’s International Relations Commission on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Renowned Mexican photographer and curator, Monica Guerrera Mouret joined us live from Mexico and led us through her exhibition From Pilgrim to Pilgrim that features hundreds of colorful and vivid images narrating the story of the pilgrimage tradition in Mexico, with its thousands of individual passages. A recording of the program is available at www.youtube.com/user/cityofholland.
Guerrera Mouret conceived the multidisciplinary exhibition From Pilgrim to Pilgrim through an experience she had being caught in traffic because of large group of pilgrims on their way to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “I got out of the car, I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of faces full of tears, rough hands holding rosaries, dirty feet, children with their images of The Virgin of Guadalupe. I followed them. I had a thousand questions to ask those people who were walking: Where are they going? Why are they walking? What’s their purpose?” said Guerrera Mouret.
The exhibition, and its corresponding book, began its own pilgrimage in the same Basilica of Guadalupe, in 2013. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico chose the exhibition to be presented in the consulates and embassies of the United States, South and Central America and Europe. A smaller, traveling version of it is being toured by the Mexican Consulate in Detroit and was recently on display in Grand Rapids at the Hispanic Heritage Center of West Michigan.
“The members of the International Relations Commission were touched by Monica’s calling as an artist to immortalize in images the heart of the photographed,” explained Esther Fifelski, Director of the City of Holland’s Human Relations Department which includes the IRC. “Monica’s story and the stories in the exhibition deserve to be seen and shared by Holland residents, dignifying Mexico’s pilgrimage tradition in the world. We are grateful to the Mexican Consulate in Detroit for helping us arrange this live event with Monica.”
Reflecting on the pilgrimage that the exhibition has made around the world, Guerrera Mouret mentions the one organized in front of the border wall between Mexico and the United States. “The exhibition was my public thanks to the Virgin of Guadalupe and to my country. It’s an act of solidarity with our migrant brothers who are going to a destination and in it they don’t go alone, She [The Virgin] accompanies them. To exhibit on the wall is to remind the world that this exhibition is a harmony with a new musical note ‘Faith major’; my images are a breath of faith and love for the pilgrims and migrant brothers and sisters, because their smiles, looks, bare feet, flowers, songs, clothing and prayers unite us to the same Mother“, says Guerrera Mouret.