Texas Women’s History Month: Marsha Gomez
Marsha Gomez, a sculptor and activist for social change, was best known for her monumental “Madre del mundo” (Mother of the World) series. Depicting a life-sized indigenous woman cradling a globe in her lap, the first of her “madre” works was created for a Mother’s Day protest and peace encampment on Western Shoshone land opposite a nuclear testing facility in Nevada. Gomez later made other “Madre del Mundo” sculptures for the Peace Farm in the Texas Panhandle, directly across from the Pantex nuclear weapons plant, and for Casa de Colores, an indigenous resource center in Brownsville.
Born in Louisiana in 1951, she was educated in Arkansas, where she acquired a lifelong interest in traditional indigenous pottery techniques. Learning these methods helped Gomez reclaim her Choctaw heritage. Through her art, she also sought to celebrate women and her commitment to world peace. Eventually, her work also reflected the pottery tradition of indigenous women in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico.
Gomez became identified with Texas principally through her long association with Alma de Mujer, an Austin retreat center for social change that emphasizes indigenous women’s heritage. She was a founder of the center (in 1988), and directed it for many years. In 1997 Gomez was awarded a grant to continue her study of traditional pottery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She died the following year, at the age of 46.