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The Art of Many Cultures Meet in Mexico - St. Michael, the Archangel

St. Michael, the Archangel

Cornstalk paste and painted, gilded colorin wood
New Spain
Sixteenth/seventeenth century
115 x 30 x 90 cm

St. Michael appears brandishing his sword to fight the evil angels. He wears military garb with a braided diadem around his head.


This sculpture would have been used as an object of reverence in the rites of the Catholic Church. Being made of very strong light material it could have been carried in religious parades.

Technique or Process

The material used in sculpting this piece was a pulp made from cornstalks mixed with certain natural plant adhesives. Some parts of this sculpture are also fashioned from colorin wood which is also porous and lightweight. The finished piece was then painted to provide the features for St. Michael and the details of his armor.

Cultural Roots - See map

While the religion of Catholicism was an import from Spain, the art process used in creating this object for the church was an art well known in Mexico before the Spaniards arrived. Both the corn stalks used to form the sculpture and the wood used in its structure are native to Mexico.

Lesson Plans
Visual Arts Lesson: Creating a sculpture in papier mache.
Extension Activities

Math: Compute the size of this sculpture in feet and inches. Draw an outline of it in scale and compare members of the class to it in size.

Language Arts: Write a comparison and contrast essay comparing the clothing worn by St. Michael to contemporary soldiers's uniforms.

Social Studies: Research the history of soldier's uniforms through the ages.

Science: Study and compare the composition of different glues and adhesive substances used today to determine if corn or other natural products are still used as forming and adhesive substances.


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