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Denver Art Museum's Newest Exhibition 'La Malinche' Explores History Of A Relatively Unknown & Controversial Girl

DENVER (CBS4) - You probably don't know her or her story, but without her, Colorado as we know it wouldn't exist. The girl known as "La Malinche" is the star of the newest exhibition at the Denver Art Museum.

cortez and malinche
(credit: CBS)

Even though her given name is unknown, Victoria Lyall, The Fredrick & Jan Mayer Curator of the Ancient Americas, says there are a lot of things you can call the girl who translated for Spanish conquistadors as they colonized Mexico.

"We call her Marina, Malintzin, Malinalli, and Malinche," said Lyall.

Lyall says her life story is complicated and that makes describing her and her contribution to the history of The America's difficult.

"Sold as a slave. Interpreter companion. Survivor," is how Lyall said Artist Annie Lopez Portrays La Malinche.

busts and woman
(credit: CBS)

In her lifetime her voice was silenced. No autobiographical accounts exist of Malinche, and most of the accounts that do exist were written by Spanish men, which Lyall says distorted how we remember her today.

"There's a great deal of misogyny and racism that has impacted how her story has been passed down through the generations," said Lyall. "This is the first time that we're really trying to consider the historical origins of so many of these different perceptions and identities that became synonymous with her."

(credit: CBS)

Throughout history she's been a traitor, hero, indigenous girl and even sex symbol, but these descriptions are ones placed on her by men.

This new exhibit not only examines those, but tries to envision how she would have described herself.

Helping some visitors understand what it is like being a woman in a male dominated world and recognizing the struggles women face face by living in two different worlds.

at the exhibition
(credit: CBS)

"Malinche is your mom. She's your sister. She's your aunt. She's you," said Lyall.

"La Malinche" opened in February and runs through the first week in May.

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