María Teresa Huerta Márquez passed away February 21, 2022. Without question, every manito researcher has been affected by the work of Teresa. Whether or not we had the privilege of working with her in person, any work done in the field of Mexican American literature, Nuevomexicano/a literature or Southwestern literature has benefited from her tireless energy. How many of us remember walking into the dark coolness of the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico and seeing Teresa walking amongst the collections of our ancestral histories? At one point, many of us have noticed the beauty of the architecture in the West Wing of Zimmerman Library. Perhaps, we know the story of the Works Progress Administration artists who carved the chairs and the desks and although those works of art are masterful not even they could outshine the style of Teresa Márquez. Ask anyone and they will undoubtedly remember a particular necklace, ring or bracelet. They were that stunning. They were, in a way, tokens that gave a slight hint to Teresa’s vast amount of knowledge. She knew the collections. She knew the writers. She knew the cultures. And she knew how to present them in ways that empowered those of us who, like her, made it our lives.
Teresa Márquez along with Tey Diana Rebolledo edited the collection: Women’s Tales from the New Mexico WPA: La Diabla a Pie (2000). Published by Arte Público Press as part of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, this book is an invaluable resource in making available our stories and our cultural knowledge. It is one almost all of us who work with Nuevomexicana/o culture, history and literature pass on to our students. In the classes I have taught, it is one of the readings students like best and find the most interesting. And we are all grateful that it is out in the world for us to read and absorb. Muchisimas gracias for that work and for all the time, love and energy that was put into it.
Like her writing and her research, Teresa’s programming at the Center for Southwest Research and at the University of New Mexico was priceless. The programs she put together were programs I never forgot. Before I got to UNM in 2000, the Amarillo Globe News published an article about a Chicano Detective Fiction Symposium that was happening at UNM that spring. I had just finished my M.A. degree in Texas and I remember seeing that article and reading Teresa’s name and wishing more than anything that I could attend that event. Even before I knew her, she had an impact on me and made me think that perhaps the University of New Mexico was a place I could find a home. And thanks to her and the events and lectures she put together, it was.
Once she mentioned growing up in El Paso and because of that I often like to imagine Teresa as a young girl walking around El Paso’s Plaza de San Jacinto when the alligators were still flesh and blood alligators – before Luis Jiménez’s fiberglass sculptures took their place. Perhaps, she is there now, surrounded by the Chihuahuense desert, beneath the Chihuahuense sun.
Rest in Power Teresa.
For further reading: https://issuu.com/bluemesareview/docs/blue_mesa_review_issue_43/s/12291587.
Photo by Gregory Peterson