Guatemalan artist and political activist Rina Lazo, whose spiritually infused, allegorical murals, paintings, and prints were often inspired by ancient Maya frescoes and Latin American myths, died last month. She was ninety-six years old.
Born in Guatemala City in 1923, Lazo first studied under artist Julio Urruela, then at the Guatemalan Academy of Fine Arts. After moving to Mexico to attend the National School of Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving in the country’s capital, Lazo was soon sent by her instructor Andrés Sánchez Flores to assist Diego Rivera on Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central, at the Hotel de Prado. She went on to serve as an assistant to Rivera until his death in 1957—he called her “a painter of great talent, my right hand, and the best of my assistants”—remained in Mexico for the rest of her life.
Through Frida Kahlo, Rivera’s wife, Lazo also met Arturo García Bustos, a disciple of Kahlo’s who became Lazo’s husband in 1949. That year she made her first mural, The Four Elements. Lazo’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Guatemala; the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; and the San Carlos University Museum, Philippines. She received the merit medal for three decades of teaching at the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature, and Guatemala’s Order of Quetzal in 2004.