Meet Ohio Wesleyan faculty through their music playlists that reflect their interests, personalities, and ideas about their fields. Here, Alejandra Rojas Silva, Assistant Professor of Art History, relates some of her own art history story.

Playlist iconListen to Alejandra Rojas Silva's art history playlist on Spotify.

By Alejandra Rojas Silva, Ph.D.

Alejandra Rojas SilvaMaking a playlist to deliver a compelling message about art history reveals more about my own identity than I normally would on first meeting. That being said, my academic interest in art is mostly to do with the production of identity in visual forms, so maybe its only fair that you can interpret something of mine given this list.

"I'll Be Your Mirror"
The Velvet Underground and Nico, 1967

So many musicians whose work I like wrote songs about Andy Warhol. The artist’s cover for the 1967 The Velvet Underground and Nico album is iconic. Seeing that banana immediately brings me back to my adolescence. A sixties rock band singing about the gritty New York scene traverses time and space to speak directly to me as a girl in the nineties growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, which had its share of grittiness. This is the first Andy Warhol artwork I ever saw and is still one of my favorite albums of all time. This YouTube video has Nico singing over Warhol’s footage of her.

“Andy Warhol”
David Bowie, 1971
A little later, David Bowie wrote the song "Andy Warhol." Its chorus, "Andy Warhol looks a scream/Hang him on my wall/Andy Warhol, Silver Screen/Can’t tell them apart at all," references Warhol’s hundreds of films, and captures the way Warhol turned his whole life into a performance.

John Cale and Lou Reed, 1990
Decades later, John Cale and Lou Reed reunited to say goodbye to their long dead friend. They sing, "I think images are worth repeating and repeating and repeating." That simple verse captures Warhol’s playful destruction of authorship.

Bomba Estéreo, 2017
This high school classmate who shared my love of Bowie became a Latin American rock star. Here is his band singing about heartbreak in a video inspired by Salvador Dalí’s surreal dreamscapes. If you ever end up being a pop star, you need to know how to play with art historical references, so take my survey classes.

The Carters, 2018
Or how about Jay Z and Beyoncé in this video shot in the Louvre. Visual literacy is important. Not only does it tie you to your past and your identity, but it allows for you to have a conversation through time with other artists, overturning racial and colonial hierarchies.

"Viva la Vida"
Coldplay, 2008
Along with the boyish vibes of New York and British rebels, I consumed Frida Kahlo’s diaries. Her fantastically illustrated work asked the same questions that I had:  What is a Latin American woman? What is the weight of the European and the Indigenous past? What does it mean to be betrayed by one’s own body? And then a British guy saw a Frida Kahlo painting and wrote one of my son’s favorite songs. His Kahlo is not mine. Where is the Mexican Revolution or the struggle against patriarchy in Coldplay’s "Viva la Vida"? They sing about a fallen king. And yet, the drums are good. And my boy likes to drum, and he likes a little sadness and tragedy in his pop, like his Latin American mother, so we both belt it out in the car as we drive through the flat Ohio roads.

"Going Down"
Stone Roses, 1989
John Squire’s album cover for the the Stone Roses’ debut LP is a riff on Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings of the late-forties. The lyrics from "Going Down," "There she looks like a painting/Jackson Pollock’s Number 5," introduced a certain teenage boy in California to the artist. He went on to write his undergraduate thesis on Pollock, and then to graduate school in art history. If it were not for the Stone Roses and the Velvet Underground, we might have never have met outside the fine arts library and moved to Ohio.

Alejandra Rojas Silva is an Assistant Professor of Art History. Her teaching and curatorial practice engage modern and contemporary Latin American Art, while her academic research focuses on Indigenous and Creole images of the natural world in the early modern period in the Americas.