Festival celebrates pioneering 17th century Mexican nun, and tickets on sale Friday include Spanish Gold

5:52 p.m Thursday, April 17, 2014 Arts

A young woman abandons her impoverished environment and seeks a better life. This could describe the situation of many young Latinas today, but it’s the story of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th century Mexican nun, celebrated playwright, mathematician and poet in a time when women were banned from education.

Her life and contributions are being remembered in the two-day Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz 2014: A Tribute to Mexican American Women festival Friday and Saturday at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

The sixth yearly tribute to Sor Juana brings together a collection of poetry, theater, art, music and panel discussions about the healing and restorative power of art, and its impact on women.

Marginalized, discriminated against because she was an illegitimate child and ridiculed for being a woman who dared to think, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and her life are an inspiration for many. This self-taught scholar, born in Mexico City in 1651 and a feminist before the word was invented, found refuge in a convent where she generated a body of work now used to highlight oppression of women.

Actress and playwright Yadira de la Riva will present “One Journey,” a monologue about the life of borderland families, both nights. De la Riva seeks to shed light on the conflict and difficulties experienced by those who live in two worlds, stranded between two languages and surviving a clash of cultures.

Also at the fest: The poems and artwork of imprisoned Texas women will be seen in the exhibit “Illuminating Spirits,” a panel discussion will examine the rehabilitative power of art, and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson will perform, among other events.

The Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz 2014: A Tribute to Mexican American Women is free to attend and starts at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. Information and full schedule: austintexas.gov/page/emma-s-macc-events, or 512-974-3772.

Spanish Gold, the rock ‘n’ roll power trio comprised of local guitarist and composer Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma and Brownout) My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan and Dante Schwebel of Hacienda, has a debut full-length ready to drop on May 27. The album “South of Nowhere” has been in development for almost two years. It was recorded at studios in Nashville, Louisville and Austin.

The group also is releasing a limited edition vinyl 7-inch for Record Store Day on Saturday. The 7-inch will feature the band’s first single, “Out on the Street,” along with a cover of the Ghetto Brothers’ 1971 hit “There Is Something In My Heart.”

They’ll hit the road this summer for a tour that rolls into Austin on June 19 at the Parish. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m Friday. More tickets on sale Friday:

• Andy Grammar at the Parish (June 13)

• Too $hort, E-40 at Emo’s (June 22)

• 311 at ACL Live (July 29)

• Nick Waterhouse at the Parish (Aug. 1)

• Nickel Creek, Sarah Jarosz at ACL Live (Aug. 23)

• Needtobreathe, the Oh Hellos at Austin Music Hall (Sept. 4)

Already on sale: Thievery Corporation at Stubb’s (April 29); Dead Prez at Empire Control Room (May 15); Moving Units at the Mohawk (May 16); the Whigs at Red 7 (June 13); Cut Copy at Stubb’s (June 21).

— American-Statesman staff

Matthew Odam tours three wine bars, plus we’ll have more on the Austin Food & Wine Festival and a look ahead at May’s comedy and Latino cultural events.

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