Written by Teresa Palomo Acosta
Read by Ben Sargent
Marsha Gómez , 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. Gómez 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 Gómez 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.
Gómez 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 Gómez 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.
Acosta, Teresa Palomo and Ruthe Winegarten, Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.
Audio Source Information
Our project, "Texas Women's History Moments," received the 2012 National Council on Public History Outstanding Public History Award and the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award. The audio clips were broadcast on KUT radio from 2011-2016 during Women’s History Month.