This publication accompanies the exhibition XicanX: New Visions. Presented by the City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture at Centro de Artes Gallery, San Antonio, Texas, February 13 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; June 28, 2020. ÂŠ The artists, authors, and the City of San Antonio. Catalog formatting and design by Madison Cowles Serna. All rights reserved.
101 S. Santa Rosa San Antonio, TX 78207 210-207-1436 www.sanantonio.gov/CentroDeArtes 4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWARD 7 CURATORIAL STATEMENT
Interview with Robert Martinez
Interview with Daphne Arthur
Interview with Ben Cuevas
ABOUT CENTRO DE ARTES
FOREWARD When the Nixon administration convened an Ad Hoc committee in the early 1970s to agree upon a term to classify all peoples from Mexico, Central and South America it set off a continuous discussion of identity among academics, community activists, artists, and social service workers who all address this population through their work. Debates continue to take place decades later in classrooms, staff meetings, between family members and friends to no end. With XicanX: New Visions, we tackle this topic once again through the lens of a younger generation. During the civil rights period of the 1960s, the Chicano Movement included many of the same demographics we see today, however, the term Chicano did not apply to all in the movement. The focus was on the greater goal of civil rights and not so much on labels. In the 1990s, the gender neutral @ sign replaced the o in Chicano to recognize the women who worked just as hard for civil rights throughout the years. Then the discussion turned to people from Central American. How did they fit under the term Chicano, or did they? Cultural and civil rights centers questioned their organization names and some made changes such as the prominent National Council of La Raza now called Unidos US. This is not their first name change as they were initially called the National Organization for Mexican American Services at their founding in 1963. As the needs of the community continue to grow and change, we change right along with them. Yes, many members of older generations question these changes. By removing names that include “Raza” and “Chicano” are we erasing the legacy of struggle and empowerment those movements built? It is a valid question and while we may not have the answer we can continue the intergenerational discussion in the classroom and living rooms. The idea that we can select labels for ourselves is not a new concept. Did we not have but two options at the founding of the US? White or Colored. The concept of one homogenous hispanic community is completely flawed. Perhaps that is the one thing we can (mostly) all agree on. What we should focus on is the ongoing fight for justice. Justice for our elders who pray for us every night. Justice for the DACA recipients (aka Dreamers) who have an uncertain future under the current administration. Justice for our queer relatives whose voices are silenced. Justice for the street vendor who is arrested for trying to make a living. What I suggest is for visitors to walk the gallery and think about what the artist is trying to say. What is their perspective and can you tell anything about their self-prescribed identity? These may not be so obvious. Thank you for taking the time to view the gallery if you were able. Due to the Covid-19 virus quarantine, the Centro de Artes gallery is closed as of the publishing of this catalog. However, the catalog will ensure we can view the works and continue the conversation well after the closing of the exhibition. I would like to thank the curators of the show, Dos Mestizx, Suzy Gonzalez and Michael Menchaca, for using this platform to push the envelope. We wouldn’t be Chicanos, Chican@s, Xican@s or Xicanx’s if we didn’t. Gracias, Yadhira Lozano 7
XicanX: New Visions By Dos Mestizx: Suzy Gonzalez & Michael Menchaca Introduction
XicanX: New Visions challenges previous and existing surveys of Chicano and Latino identity-based exhibitions. This group of artists expands upon how “Latinx” artwork can be established across ideological borders; freely expressing a new wave of images and voices in a post-internet era. The motivation behind this group exhibit stems from a desire to give a name to a new generation of artists of coiled genetic ancestries, sexual orientations, and studio techniques, as they voice themselves within the contemporary art world. XicanX art recalls the powerful impact of the Chicano Art movement while upholding a further inclusivity of both intercultural and intersectional identities. The XicanX Art Movement consists of artists from a variety of identities, not necessarily with Mexican origins. The X at the beginning of XicanX signifies our often forgotten or ignored Indigenous and African ancestries, the center reads, “I can,” and the X at the end of XicanX represents the inclusivity of non-gender-conforming and LGBTQAI+ identities. While this exhibition title is not meant to be prescriptive, but rather to uplift the ability to self-identify, it is the most appropriate term to use at this moment regarding identity-oriented discussions in contemporary art. We recognize these artists as exemplifying the complex thread constructing our “Latinx” communities in the present age. The work involves expressions of culture, storytelling around existence and experience, and a transcendence of borders. With roots in painting and printmaking, the XicanX movement expands to include new media and installation-based art making. These artists are not afraid to use their voices, and often comment on and/or question socio-political issues, identity, family, the land, and contemporary civil-rights. This exhibition especially highlights the womxn, queer, immigrant, indigenous, and activist artists who are at the forefront of this movement. While there is definite overlap, we found it helpful to organize sub-themes within the exhibition to focus on what these artists are concentrating on in their work.
Upon entering the exhibition, viewers are introduced to XicanX artworks featuring familiar Chicano-era symbols such as an empowered brown fist, two-dimensional portraits, and protest photography. Viewers will note however, upon closer inspection, that each work is created with materials introducing something new to pre-existing depictions of these familiar symbols. Mark Anthony Martinez’s Beige Rage (iteration #3), a colossal brown self-portrait fist with a “flesh tone” band-aid, utilizes the vocabulary of commercial signage in an effort to subvert the mass consumption of whiteness within dominant U.S. culture and art institutions. Joel Garcia uses aloe vera based screenprinting ink to create portraits of formerly incarcerated individuals in order to explore masculinity through an indigenous lens. Through portraiture, he uplifts the underserved, and his work extends in the Los Angeles community as a cultural organizer. The paintings of Robert Martinez blend mechanical airbrush methods with oil paint, conjuring a resistance to the dichotomy between what is 8
seen as natural and unnatural. His Northern Arapaho and Chicano heritage fuel his work and inspire him to depict indigenous people and qualities that may be unexpected. Martinez’s map drawings depict technological advancements, with an enduring affirmation of Native identity and cultural practices. Afro-Venezuelan artist, Daphne Arthur, carefully uses the smoke of a burning candle to draw onto paper, like in her work When You’re With Me I can Fly. The ability to master this alternative ephemeral medium grows upon the draftsmanship seen in early Chicano drawing. The way her materials expand upon the medium, her identity too exhibits the fact that XicanX does not necessitate Mexican ancestry; rather, we are all in diasporic conversation with one another. The Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 70s brings up civil rights images of protest involving the United Farm Workers labor union, led by Dolores Huerta and César Chávez. Locally to San Antonio, we look up to labor union organizer Emma Tenayuca, who led the Texas Pecan Shellers Strike in the 1930s. Contemporary images of protest by Erik Iñiguez speak of Indigenous recognition within Xicanismx as well as allyship with our Native siblings in works such as Standing Rock Thankstaking. While viewing Arleene Correa Valencia’s Maria Dolores, one might be reminded of Ester Hernandez’s Sun Mad print. However here, the two-dimensional portrait of a migrant farm worker is embedded onto the surface of the narrative sculptural object of a shipping pallet. In this way, Correa bridges the historical gap between painting and sculpture within the context of Chicano identity. Gilda Posada takes the tradition of printmaking and adds delicate textile elements to pay homage to queer scholars Gloria Anzaldua and Audre Lorde, trailblazers of women-of-color-oriented feminist theory. Because of them and women like them, we are able to have conversations in the arts that recognize the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. Each work in the entry successfully accomplishes a formal understanding of their subjects while bringing to light a current awareness of the evolution of Chicano identity through material exploration.
Moving forward into the space, viewers are presented with an assortment of conceptual works materializing the evolution from Chicano to XicanX. Natalia Rocafuerte’s Tower of Duality and Lisa Guevara’s Spilled Contents face one another and keenly assert a studio practice unpreoccupied by the Eurocentric art canon. Guevara uses readily accessible found objects to create this large textile installation that becomes an embodiment of contemporary rasquachismo infused with humor and attitude. Rocafuerte’s installation, Tower of Duality, contains two monitors and two cameras that capture the viewer as they walk by, bringing them closer for further interaction. The installation physically illustrates the duality of identity that is often imposed upon us in regards to gender and sexuality. Under the umbrella of New Media, Rocafuerte’s objects are actually comprised of dated analog technology, yet are contemporized through experimentation and content. Jesusa Marie Vargas’ Conocimiento and Nana are made of the natural material of wood, contrasting with Rocafuerte’s monitors, yet standing in a similar reference to the body. Vargas’ Nana sculpture stands at 65 inches tall and depicts a familial elder, recalling medicinal memories discovered within the figure’s back—a cupboard of trinkets, aloe vera, and sage. Again, the resistance to dichotomy is seen; in this case folk art and fine art are one in the same. Chicano art has a history of using printmaking for protest, and Kalli Arte collective continues to use the medium with politicized intent. Teltica/Con Fuego/With Fire is a memorial to youth whose lives have been taken by the police. The aesthetic of papel picado and indigenous imagery guide us to remember these lost spirits and to take care of our own spirits during times of struggle and violence within our communities. The relief paintings of Yvette Mayorga provide a playful experience not unlike colorful cultural decor like papel picado, piñatas, or other “fiesta” type celebratory items. The act of piping onto canvas is reminiscent of baking pan dulce or caulking drywall, trades that may be associated with immigrant labor. Symmetry made 9
through painted objects of consumerism might provide joy, yet hold a darker criticality of violence along the US/Mexico border.
Personal is Political
Chicanidad has always existed as a politicized identity, and XicanX follows this lineage, yet acknowledges a further interculturality and mixedness within identity. Centered in this area of the gallery is Eric J. Garcia’s sculptural pair, Cast Zambuigua. The porcelain figures consist of dissected and reattached elements of art history from Europe, Mexico, and the United States that are a part of Chicano genetics and geography. Chicanos are both the colonizer and the colonized, and we exist in a country that, until more recently, has embraced social binaries. The complexity of identity can be seen throughout XicanX: New Visions, along with the concept that the personal is political. Irene Antonia Diane Reece’s installation, Billie James, is made up of both collected artifacts and created imagery. Mainly based on photographs, but with mixed media elements, Reece links her experiences with that of her father’s. As a Black Mexican woman who has lived in both the United States and Europe, Reece has an intersectional perspective on the effects of systemic racism in multiple locations. When the work is viewed closely, references to police brutality and colorism arise, but elements of hope and Black liberation are seen through family photographs, body positivity, and a love for one’s culture. There is no question as to the colorism that exists within Latinx communities; we are all complicit until we consciously work to challenge antiblackness. Facing Reece’s installation is a series of monochromatic prints by Nabil Gonzalez that conceptualizes and memorializes missing and murdered women. What might first appear as floral imagery reveals itself as references to blood splatters. Using a feminine silhouette speaks of countless numbers rather than individuals, but also to the generalization or lack of exposure to the commonality of violence against women of color. Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria collaborate in Our Space is Spoken For to bring a multidisciplinary retelling of St. Paul, Minnesota resident Nautica Bojorquez’s story of walking home late from the bus stop. In the climax of their collaborative video, Nautica confronts neighborhood machismo presented in the form of a blue burro piñata. She swings a baseball bat, attacking the burro as Sanchez-Chavarria and de Ybarra poetically narrate her reclamation of space. William Camargo’s series of photographs comment on gentrification and land ownership as a continuation of colonization. Placing brown bodies in the frame indicates those who are being displaced through the Eurocentric preoccupation with borders and the dictation of spaces in which Black and Brown people are or aren’t authorized to exist in. Part of Camargo’s practice is in sign removing and sign creation; house flipping signs are repurposed in In Attempt to Stop Flipping Houses and a sign reading “This area will gentrify soon” is held in front of the figure in We Bout to Have to Move Out Soon Fam!. While this title provides a glimpse of humor, he addresses the idea of “fam” as communities of color who are collectively struggling to maintain their housing and a feeling of belonging.
As those whose work revolves around social justice issues or who practice activism know, it is a challenge to balance this work with one’s mental health and wellness. Works by Efren Ave, Emilia Cruz, Audrya Flores, and Josie Del Castillo give us permission to pause, to breathe, and to remember the earth under our feet. Emilia Cruz’s femme portraits explore relationships with the elements of nature and the cosmos. They look forward or engage with the viewer, with a strength of sureness and curiosity. These paintings are displayed amongst Efren Ave’s fruit sticker mixed media works, which may provide a calming or even overwhelming feeling. Hundreds of stickers are optically joined to create pattern and fields of color, referencing Post-Impressionist pointillism. 10
A spherical mandala turns out to be Chilaquiles con Huevo, reclaiming abstraction through an image of cultural consumption with materials that hold a history of farm labor and Mexican treats at the artist’s brother’s fruiteria. Stepping into the space, viewers cannot miss the site-specific floor installation by Audrya Flores, a serpent comprised of vinyl scales and collected rocks to form its larger-than-life head. Representing rebirth, this snake installation provides a reminder of the necessity of spiritual healing within Xicanismx. Above Flores’ installation hangs a painting by Josie Del Castillo, speaking of millenial anxieties through portraiture. Another work by Del Castillo, We’re Always Changing, embodies the XicanX ideals of taking inspiration from the lineage of Chicano art history and adding a contemporary twist; in this case, “digitizing” portraiture through the use of implied glitches and pixels. We truly are always changing, and the artists within XicanX: New Visions are conscious of this change and the era in which their expressions are taking place.
As Audrya Flores’ serpent installation slithers under a gallery wall, it then leads us into further sacred spaces. Natalia Anciso’s installation, Sueños, has the visual aesthetic of an altarpiece, but is made of an emergency foil blanket like those used by children in detention centers. The work directly engages with the ongoing family separation that has been endured by immigrants, and parent and child struggle to reach one another through the serape bars in the small paintings on the installation’s outskirts. Monarch butterflies and artificial flowers are spread throughout as symbols of hope and survival. The paintings of Michael R. León consider the past and the present and the mythologies that are tied to each with painted objects of Mesoamerican artifacts, pitbulls, calaveras, and Christ. He dyes raw canvas with indigo as an homage to ancestral methods of creating, then adds moments of trompe-l’oeil, in which one cannot tell if something is real or painted to appear real. The trickery of the artist to disguise supplies like lined paper or masking tape within the paintings leaves us questioning whether the origins of myths are situated in truth or in story-telling. Prints by Lisette Chavez, such as Unholy Roller, comment on trauma and deception associated with organized religion. Likely a portrait of a priest, the character reveals a thick serpent’s tongue that is uncomfortably seductive. Yet, her lithograph, Blue Eyeshadow, a portrait of a devilish femme character with a similar tongue, appears empowered as she confronts the viewer with symmetry and eye contact. Jesusa Marie Vargas’ photographic print, Luchadora por los Inocentes, alludes to the mujer strength of the Virgen de Guadalupe with a subversiveness that paints the religious figure as a luchadora, a fighter.
Gender and Queerness
Half of the artists in XicanX: New Visions identify within the LGBTQAI+ spectrum, and the majority of artists identify as women or femmes. This directly challenges the sexism and homophobia that is embedded within dated concepts of Chicanismo. Xandra Ibarra’s video work Spictacle II: Tortillera, was so contrasting to what City of San Antonio officials in power consider acceptable for our majority Latinx community, that it was censored by the Department of Arts and Culture before it could ever be seen by the public. Rather than be exhibited in XicanX: New Visions, the censorship led it to become viewed online by the masses. The work references queer sexuality with humor and parody, challenging Latina housewife tropes, machismo, and heteronormativity. With an intimate softness the PILLows: 227 (Isentress) and 510 (Stribild) created by Ben Cuevas represent medications prescribed to people who are HIV Positive. The stigma that is still present around this diagnosis is confronted in the work with the invitation to interact with the welcoming installation through touch. Photographs by Xavier Robles Armas are made up of collections of objects of vanity or domesticity, and the meaning is amplified through curiosities of what materials are “real” and what are invented. For example, in 8 a.m. Sunday Morning, the photo does not include bananas, but includes a cut-out print of bananas. The images are literally queered, and the ability to put one’s finger on any prescribed normative “truth” is removed. Tender Cactus, an empty 11
jar of nopalitos finished with lace and ribbon like an ornament, embodies the vulnerability of pride in identity within the strong, yet fragile skin of a glass jar.
Throughout the exhibition, several artists address their concerns on matters of immigration while visualizing the physical barriers that separate their bilingual, binational communities. In Imagining a Decolonized Future at the Border, Las Imaginistas, together with Brownsville community members, document the building of a model city that addresses the needs of their binational border community using chucherias, or supplementary household items. In this effort they literally build bridges from scrap materials, in stark contrast to a landscape built around divisive architecture. Lilia Berenice Hernandez Galusha’s video, Manifesto of Proof, montages governmental family records to underscore a personal archive of binational validation. In another video work, Life in Shadows: Written in Light, Tanya Garcia and Juan Ortiz collaborate to bring together several personal accounts by those directly affected by immigration legislation. Anonymous interviews are placed amongst the desert landscape of la frontera. Yvonne Escalante’s La Frontera is an ornamental brooch, hinging a silver migration route between a geographic representation of the United States and El Salvador. Hanging from the silver route are golden Easter lilies, symbolizing a funerary element from Escalante’s paternal grandfather’s funeral. Escalante’s execution of a delicate object containing a personal allegory offsets the heavy weight of migration as art subject matter. In the video Probar Fortuna, Ana Treviño brings an intimate account of one man’s journey across the US/Mexican border, along with the emotional response of the individual’s immediate family members. Stretched out on one of the gallery walls, Celeste De Luna’s Paranoia Quilt characterizes the Rio Grande Valley as an anthropomorphic militarized landscape fashioned from a large, hand-carved woodblock. Inked and pressed onto the surface of second-hand fabrics, De Luna’s print harkens back to the relief prints of Jose Guadalupe Posada. Alán Serna’s transfer photographs monumentalize the ephemeral qualities of valid government identification and binational calling cards in Trabajando Los Seguros and Viva Mexico, respectively.
XicanX: New Visions is exhibited during year four of 45’s presidential term, an election year, not to mention during the outbreak of COVID-19, when a national state of emergency was declared. We still have immigrants in prison, violence against youth and trans folks of color, institutionalized systemic racism and Latina’s statistically receiving the lowest wage. The year 2020 thus far is full of exploitation and fear, but also of community and solidarity. Artists continue to create culture, and their visions are often ahead of any kind of governmental policy. The ability to create beautiful, controversial, thought-provoking works is a document of our times and the voices of Latinx artists are so vital for this conversation—for the present, and for what has yet to come.
DEMOGRAPHIC STATISTICS Identity-oriented exhibits are flourishing, and the curatorial challenge comes in creating exhibitions in this vain without tokenizing or making presumptions about artists. In utilizing methods of Curatorial Activism, we felt it vital to give power to self-identification, and to be transparent as to our findings. As exhibiting artists ourselves, we did not want to assign identification labels that may obfuscate or disempower selected artists in any way. Rather, each artist in XicanX: New Visions completed a self-identity questionnaire as a means for us to understand the complexities of identity within Latinidad.
NATALIA ANCISO Bio Natalia Anciso (Weslaco, TX, 1985) is a Chicana-Tejana visual artist, educator, and Rio Grande Valley native. Anciso earned her BA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin, her MFA from the California College of the Arts, and her MA in Education from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Anciso has exhibited her work throughout the United States and internationally, including the San Jose Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of California, and the National Museum of Mexican Art. Her work focuses primarily around identity and her experience growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as human rights, race, class and education. Arts integration and social justice are paramount to her work as an urban educator. Her contributions as an artist have been acknowledged by The Huffington Post, Latina Magazine, Elle Magazine, and TVyNovelas, as well as by former United States Secretary of Education, John King, Jr. She is based in Oakland, California.
Sueños, Pen and embroidery on handkerchief on emergency blanket, silk flowers, acrylic and graphite on wood, 52.5“x82.5”, 2018
Artist Statement The Families Belong Together series is a new, ongoing collection of Anciso’s work highlighting the recent rise in immigrant children being separated by their families at the border. Though this issue is nothing new, the sheer rise in migrant children separation and detention reached new levels in recent years, and the scope of the series encompasses both the detention experience as well as the expressions of anxiety, pain, and suffering around losing one’s family member.
DAPHNE ARTHUR Bio One year after receiving her MFA from Yale, Daphne had three solo exhibitions at RARE gallery in NY from 20122014 and the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2015. She has participated in group exhibitions nationally and internationally at the Honfleur Gallery in DC, The City College of New York, The Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York, Laviolabank Gallery, Marvelli Gallery, Rush Arts Gallery in NY, Arena 1 in Santa Monica, the California African American Museum in LA, Land of Tomorrow in Louisville, Mexic-Arte Museum in Texas, 59 Rivoli gallery in Paris, the Florence Biennale VIII in Italy 2011, and Aalto University in Finland 2018. Arthur has participated in prestigious residencies at the American Academy of Rome, Oxbow and Mass MoCa.
Popotov War, oil on canvas, 2017
When You’re With Me I Can Fly, Smoke, caulking, and gold leaf on paper, 33.25”x25.5”, 2014
Artist Statement Daphne Arthur is a contemporary Afro-Venezuelan artist, whose work explores the politics of daily life and transnational imaginaries from the diaspora. These perspectives emerge with an agency from marginalized histories of individuals, whose stories and contributions are perpetually omitted and made invisible. Ruminating in past and present mythologies of colloquial exchanges, Arthur bridges the quotidian and explores histories ranging from a personal perspective to an anthropological excavation of alternative narratives, to consider human conditions beyond the paradox of culture, language, imagery, and memory. Daphne combines painting, sculpture, drawing, and collage, as well as unexpected materials in her work in an effort to break down archetypal aesthetic barriers, while knocking down stereotypical perceptions on issues of race, gender, religion, and cultural identity. To create her smoke drawings, Daphne holds paper over a burning candle and lets the smoke tint the paper. While her aesthetic is influenced by Japanese scroll art, Renaissance painting and architecture, and film noir, the content of her work focuses on preconceptions, perceptions, and expectations regarding human interaction and behavior.
EFREN AVE Bio Efren Ave, was born in Michoacan Mexico. He immigrated to California in 1990 where he started a new life. In 2000 he started to take art classes at Foothill College. He uses traditional oil and water based mediums to convey highly satirical and comical images surrounding issues of the borderlands between the US and Mexico, as well as everyday experiences. His figurative paintings have captured the attention of many Bay Area collectors in recent years, for his ability to filter away the morass surrounding border politics to arrive at distilled images of humanity and truth. EfrenAve also likes to work with recycled materials; most recently he has been working with fruit stickers and baling twine.
Chilaquiles con Huevo, Fruit stickers collage on pvc foam sheet, 24”x24”, 2020
Artist Statement One day while playing with mangoes stickers Efren Ave realized that his father was interested in playing with them too, perhaps as a distraction from his recent leg amputation that condemned him to a wheelchair. The mangoes are being used to make a Mexican dessert called Mangonada, in his brother’s business “Paleteria Los Manguitos.” At that time Efren Ave saw the opportunity of making something creative and sharing quality time with his father during his healing process. The mandala design was picked for its spiritual healing qualities, very appropriate for the moment. While working with the stickers Efren Ave noticed how each one had a story to tell. The story of each customer that was consuming Mangonadas, daily stories of chili hot and sweet flavors able to transport them to their roots and heal their nostalgia for their land. But more than anything else Efren Ave realized stamps also told the story of all those working in the mangoes’ orchards. The story of working hands and perhaps tired hands. Those hands living under the poverty line earning minimum wages, since most mangoes come from Mexico, Central, and South America. Each stamp tells the story of a successful entrepreneur or big corporation. And it also tells the story of a hungry child, of a young man without much future, of a tired old man, and of a family struggling to survive in a marginalized community. A stamp really tells the story of many.
Rombos, Fruit stickers collage on wood panel, 24”x48”, 2018 19
In Attempt to Stop Flipping Houses, 16 inkjet prints mounted on white matboard, 32”x40”, 2019
We Bout to Have to Move Out Soon Fam!, Archival inkjet print, 32”x40”, 2019 20
Bio William Camargo is an Arts Educator, Photo-Based Artist and Arts Advocate born and raised in Anaheim, California. He is currently serving as Commissioner of Heritage and Culture in the city of Anaheim and working towards an M.F.A at Claremont Graduate University. He is the founder and curator of Latinx Diaspora Archives, an archive Instagram page, that elevates communities of color through family photos. He attained his BFA at the California State University, Fullerton and an AA from Fullerton College in photography. William has held residencies at Project Art, the Chicago Artist Coalition, ACRE and at LA Summer held at Otis School of Art and Design. He has also participated in the New York Times Portfolio Review, NALAC’s Leadership Institute and is a member of Diversify Photo, an initiative started to diversify the photography industry. He was awarded the Friedman Grant from CGU and has given lectures at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Gallery 400 (Chicago), University of San Diego, Cal State Long Beach, the Claremont Colleges, USC Roski among others. Additionally, his work has been shown at the Chicago Cultural Center, Loisaida Center (New York), University of Indianapolis (Indiana) , Mexican Cultural Center and Cinematic Arts (Los Angeles), Stevenson University (Baltimore), The Cooper Gallery of African and African American Arts at Harvard, and Irvine Fine Arts Center among others. Artist Statement My practice, much like my daily life, negotiates with placemaking, constructed borders, and belonging, using photo-based work, performative intervention, installations, archival materials, and my role as an educator. I examine conventional narratives and spatial friction, individually and cooperatively. I do this by challenging the understanding of space and belonging, I work to inform, disrupt and extirpate familiar notions in order to induce powerful new or unnoticed narratives of a place and peoples. Text and symbols are prominent in my work. I use language found in newspapers and on the streets, that revolve around displacement. Using my brown body and the found language, I disrupt and place myself in my own community of color in order to make a small dent in gentrification tactics that displace Black and Brown people. I do this by using contemporary ideas in photography and inserting myself in the history of photography adjacent to the canon.
LISETTE CHAVEZ Bio Lisette Chavez was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost tip of Texas near the Mexico– United States border. She is a multi-disciplinary artist with interests in lithography, drawing and installation-based work. Chavez earned her Master of Arts degree at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Arizona. Her work is held in museum, university and private collections all over the world. She lives and works in San Antonio, Texas.
Blue Eyeshadow, Lithograph, 14”x17”, 2019
Artist Statement Lisette Chavez is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work addresses themes of family, religion and the occult. Through intricate drawings and installations, her work reflects upon personal narratives that reveal hidden truths within cultural taboos. Mirroring everyday life as she sees it, her work teeters on the edge of beauty and trauma. Although hesitant to expose her own family history and traumas, she understands how sharing personal experiences, both good and bad, produces the discourse to help us better understand the human condition.
Unholy Roller, Graphite and charcoal drawing, 16”x20”, 2018 21
ARLEENE CORREA VALENCIA Bio Arleene Correa Valencia is a Mexican born artist living and working between San Francisco and Napa, California. In 2018 Correa de Valencia received her BFA from California College of the Arts, where she will also finish her MFA in 2020. As a recipient of DACA, she has both worked and studied under this legal permit since 2012. Correa de Valencia is one of four children originally from Arteaga, Michoacán, Mexico. Her family migrated to the United States twenty-three years ago in 1997 and established themselves in California’s wine country: Napa Valley. Through painting, textiles, sculpture and found objects, she seeks to investigate and question her political status as a registered “illegal alien” by drawing connections to those who are in similar legal confinements. Using her own narrative, she touches upon themes of migration, human rights, hardship, discrimination, visibility, invisibility, the fear of deportation and separation. With her art practice Correa de Valencia aims to acknowledge a long history of oppression, resilience and undying strength reflected in her community.
Maria Dolores, Acrylic paint on shipping pallet, 48”x48”, 2018-2019
Artist Statement In 1997 I was brought to “the other side.” At the age of three the decision to migrate from Arteaga Michoacan, Mexico to Napa, California was not one that I had a say in, but it is one that has defined my social political position in the United States and inevitably, my art practice. Through painting, textiles, sculpture and found objects, I investigate and question my political status as a registered “illegal alien” by drawing connections to those who are in similar legal confinements. I use my migrant narrative to draw upon themes of immigration, human rights, hardship, discrimination, inequality, visibility, invisibility and the fear of deportation, desperation & separation. In Girlhood In The Borderlands, Lilia Soto reiterates that “migration, of any kind, becomes a permanent one way trip the moment we embark outside of our home.” Influenced by the removal from my home country and in translation establishing me in a permanent migration dictated by our current administration, I seek to question the restrictions that our brown bodies endure within a landscape and canvas. Exposing and concealing the portrait allows us to witness the invisibility of the migrant experience in an attempt to discover what is required to be a legal human. I wish to confront the things that validate my humanity beyond my birth certificate, DACA and migratory pattern. Through layers of phthalo blue and alizarin crimson I conceal my figures, protecting them from being discovered. Light shines upon them revealing their hi-vis work vests and defining them by the very labor that continues to oppress them. I want to figure out who we expect to take this position? Who is allowed to exist? How will we provide for them in our society? The camouflaged figure becomes one with their environment, forcing policies that influence and control the
movement of people across the world. My art practice is both a celebration and acknowledgement that validates my community’s collective strength and undying resilience through imagery that allows the viewer to contextualize their existence beyond their political restrictions. 22
REBEKAH CRISANTA DE YBARRA Bios Electric Machete Studios is a Minnesota-based artist-run art & music production house featuring the work of Latinx + Xicanx artists Indigenous to las Ámericas. We work for the advancement of traditional, contemporary, and experimental cultural arts by featuring the work of emerging and established Latinx / Xicanx / Indigenous artists and curating pop-up local, national, and international exhibitions, workshops, & performances. Las Luchadoras are a masked collective of Latinx / Xicanx / Indigenous artists who fight patriarchy and colonialism through performance, public disruption, and interventions. They have performed at the Minnesota State Capitol at the Women’s March, Taco Libre, and Erotic Poetry Night fighting patriarchy since 2016. Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra a.k.a. Lady Xøk (enrolled Maya-Lenca tribal citizen, El Salvador) is an experimental interdisciplinary artist, musician, and culture bearer whose work is rooted in Indigenous Futurisms. Her interdisciplinary social practice (visual, music, theatre, dance) practice seeks to shift consciousness around immigration, borders, exodus and interconnectedness of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. She performs music under the pseudonym Lady Xøk and co-founded Electric Machete Studios. Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria Is an emerging writer, spoken word poet/performer of Peruvian heritage residing n St. Paul, and contributing author to A Good Time For The Truth: Race In Minnesota. He received His MFA from Hamline University. He writes about fatherhood; the duality of two cultures in English, Spanglish, and Spanish; and issues pertaining to his community and life experiences. Artist Statements Las Luchadoras created Kiss My Matriz / Fighting Shadows in response to an intensive gallery lock-in at Electric Machete Studios during which the women shared skills, stories, created and played together culminating in public disruption and performance on the stage of the historic national Women’s March at the Minnesota State Capital. The collective shadows uncovered centered around feminism and reclamation of their bodies in the face of shared experiences of sexual and domestic violence, child abuse, traumatic births, and patriarchal societal structures that suppress the power of girls, women, femme, and trans people. Transforming public spaces into stages, Our Space Is Spoken For, a public art storytelling project, was created by Twin Cities Media Alliance for community members and artists of color to come together to reclaim space and rewrite narratives of how historically marginalized communities navigate, define and negotiate the spaces in which we work, live and play. In 2018, Our Space Is Spoken For, collected stories from residents from five featured neighborhoods in the St. Paul, Minnesota including the West Side, a rapidly gentrifying historic Latinx migrant farmworkers neighborhood where Electric Machete Studios was located. Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra (Lady Xøk) and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria worked community member Nautica Bojorquez to tell her story of walking home late hours from the bus stop, confronting machísmo, and reclaiming her power, agency, and neighborhood.
Kiss My Matriz / Fighting Shadows, Video, 3:54, 2016
Our Space Is Spoken For, Video, 4:57, 2018 23
EMILIA CRUZ Bio Emilia Cruz is a first generation Mexican American artist born in San Diego, CA in 1993. Cruz currently resides in Ventura County where she has lived most of her life. She is currently enrolled in the Illustration program at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. She is an art teacher for kids at Plaza de la Raza’s Performing and Visual Arts school located in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. Cruz was commissioned by CNN en Español for Proyecto Ser Humano (Humanity Project) and for an upcoming Netflix series called Gente-fied. Her work has been displayed at many galleries along the west coast including Seattle, WA, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego, CA.
La Venus, Acrylic on panel, 16”x20”, 2019
I Love My Skin Color, Acrylic on panel, 14”x18”, 2018 24
Artist Statement I moved to Simi Valley, CA at the age of three but spent most of my childhood weekends travelling back and forth to Tijuana, Mexico. The upbringing I had between these divergent environments ignited an interest for my own dual cultural identity which is often referenced in my paintings. I work primarily with acrylic or oil paints to make my vibrant portraits and figurative pieces come to life. The models in my paintings are usually my friends or family. I especially enjoy celebrating and centering womxn of color. Through my art, I explore different ways in which I can depict vulnerability, self-love, and empowerment.
Hey Grrrl, I love how you #werk that #body of theory. #ActivistPickupLines, Knit wool on canvas, 20”x24”, 2015
PILLows: 227 (Isentress) and PILLows: 510 (Stribild), Poly-poplin and fiber-fill, 18”x9”x6” and 36” x 18” x 12” respectively, 2017
Bio Ben Cuevas is a Los Angeles based artist working in textiles, sculpture, installation, photography, video, sound, and performance. His practice underscores queer/feminist ideologies, with a focus on the condition of embodiment. As a queer, non-binary, HIV Positive, Latinx artist, his identity directly influences his work, which is often autobiographical. Born in Riverside, California in 1987 to a Jewish mother and a Puerto Rican father, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Mixed Media Installation Art from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA (2010). Afterward, he was awarded an artist’s residency at the Wassaic Project in New York State. There he knitted his masterwork to date—a complete human skeleton. Since then he has created several bodies of work, exhibited widely, and used his art as activism to raise awareness around issues of HIV/AIDS. Cuevas has given talks on various aspects of art and knitting at events and venues including the Textile Society of America Symposium (2014), Vogue Knitting Live (2015), Printed Matter’s Los Angeles Art Book Fair (2017), The Museum of Sex (2018), and as a special guest of the Fire Island Artist Residency (2018). He was a guest lecturer and workshop facilitator in the Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University (2018). Several books and publications feature Cuevas’s work, such as DUETS: Ben Cuevas & Annie Sprinkle in Conversation (2017), published by Visual AIDS; Queer Threads: Crafting, Identity, and Community (2017), edited by John Chaich and Todd Oldham; Ceci n’est pas un pull (2018), published by Pyramyd Éditions, Paris, France; and Unraveled (2018), published by Thames & Hudson, London, UK. Artist Statement From the political to the metaphysical, my practice is steeped in queer feminist ideologies, with an awareness of the mind, body, and spirit. With fiber-based media as a throughline in much of my work, I view knitting as meditation, exploring and challenging the gendered constructs and physical limitations of craft. My work spans a wide range of disciplines including installation, sculpture, photography, performance, video and sound. Often incorporating several of these elements into any given piece, I make use of digital media as a means of documentation. At times subtly or directly autobiographical, the work I create reflects my identity as a queer, Latinx, nonbinary person living with HIV. Throughout its pluralities, I see my work reflecting the condition of embodiment: exploring what it means to have a body, to inhabit a body, to be a body incarnated in, and interacting with this world. 25
CELESTE DE LUNA Bio Celeste De Luna is a Tejana border artist from the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. De Luna’s printmaking work and social practice explores the geo-political aspects of post-911 militarization of her environment. The results are large scale relief prints, quilts, and installations which are political commentary with a feminist sensibility. She is a lecturer at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and has shown her work nationally and internationally in New York, Chicago, and Morelia, Michoacán. De Luna is a co-founder of 2017 Art Place America recipients Las Imaginistas art collective and a 2020 Vermont Studio Center Resident Artist. You can see more of her work at www.celestedeluna.com.
Out of Fire, Flight, Silkscreen on fabric, 15”x20”, 2019
Paranoia Quilt, Woodcut on fabric, 37”x64”, 2019 26
Artist Statement I work in large-scale relief prints on fabric, usually thrift store fabrics with a history, and create “art quilts” of my work. By combining the traditionally masculine medium of large-scale relief with the traditionally feminine art of sewing and domestic fabrics I was striving to make a connection with content and form that the “militarized violent border” is home to women, children, and families and also a domestic space, home. Paranoia Quilt is the concept of a hysterical reaction that others might have about being a border citizen and stereotyping a whole region. I imagine this quilt as something that someone who watches “Border Wars” might wrap themselves up in on the couch. Perhaps some people are more comfortable in their paranoia. I’ve been influenced by Mexican printmakers like Jose Guadalupe Posada and Leopoldo Mendez, Futurism, and anthropology to create imagery for my work.
JOSIE DEL CASTILLO
We’re Always Changing, Oil on panel, 36”x48”, 2016
Bio Josie Del Castillo is a Brownsville portrait artist who received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, TX, and is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX. Del Castillo has exhibited throughout the state of Texas, including in Brownsville, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas, Lubbock, and most recently in California and New York. Del Castillo’s work is inspired by the people she admires most and can often be analyzed as a reflection of herself. Artist Statement Self-worth and personal insecurities are common themes for Del Castillo, much of her work often deals with the subjects of mental health, self-esteem, and growing up in the Rio Grande Valley. For Del Castillo, the journey of acceptance and the understanding of mental health such as anxiety, are critical components of her work. Del Castillo, who has struggled with issues of body image and self-esteem, finds that being a portrait artist has given her a greater appreciation for the human form and self-worth, and draws from her personal and emotional connection to help capture the essence of each of her subjects. Instead of emphasizing the dark connotations of mental illness and disorders, Del Castillo challenges and combats it positively and confidently with vibrant and colorful depictions of her subjects. Many of these works often include MexicanAmerican cultural iconography and people raised in the Brownsville/Matamoros border culture.
Las Voces de Nuestra Region, Oil and acrylic on panel, 36”x40”, 2017 27
YVONNE ESCALANTE Bio Yvonne Escalante is an artist and educator who lives and works in San José, California. Raised in Southern California, Escalante received her BFA from California State University, Long Beach and later earned her MFA from San José State University, where she now runs the Jewelry and Small Metals area. Her art utilizes traditional metalsmithing techniques in multi-media sculptures and installations that explore themes of cultural, social, and environmental justice. Escalante’s work has been exhibited at venues throughout the Bay Area, including the deYoung Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Oakland Museum of California.
La Frontera, Brass, copper, silver, 2.5”x3.75”x1”, 2019
Artist Statement This brooch combines the stories of my father’s life in El Salvador, the ongoing journeys of migrants from Central America to the United States, and promises from the government to fortify the border and step up deportations. Decades of war and violence have forced a mass migration of people, mainly unaccompanied children, from my ancestral homeland. The Easter lilies adorning the silver migration route illustrated in the piece were pulled from a faded image of my paternal grandfather’s funeral. Their delicate beauty serves as a counterintuitive symbol of death and mourning, as is faced by many who make the treacherous voyage in search of freedom and opportunity.
AUDRYA FLORES Bio Audrya Flores is a Tejana artist, educator, and mother from Brownsville, Texas who creates assemblage and installation work exploring themes of healing. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has exhibited at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Mexic-Arte Museum, Lady Base Gallery, Provenance Gallery, Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival, Centro de Artes, and Central Library Gallery at San Antonio Public Library. Flores lives and works in San Antonio, Texas.
Promesa Ongoing, Vinyl, lava rocks, marble chips, river rocks, tumbled obsidian, artifial flowers, Dimensions variable, 2020
Artist Statement I repurpose textiles and organic materials for my portraits and installation work. The mystical images in my work are influenced by dreams, spirituality, the occult, and my roots in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. Using the storytelling traditions of my family, I address trauma, mental health, and issues of identity. I explore and document my own healing processes as a way to promote awareness and solidarity. Promesa Ongoing is a site-specific installation recognizing the serpent as a symbol of rebirth.
Promesa Ongoing detail
ERIC J. GARCIA Bio Eric J. Garcia blends history, contemporary themes and a graphic style to create politically charged art that reaches beyond aesthetics. Using sculpture, mixed media installations, murals, printmaking and his controversial political cartoons, he aims to challenge his viewers to question sources of power and the whitewashing of history. Received his BFA with a minor in Chicano studies from the University of New Mexico, Eric Garcia went on to complete his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a core member of the printmaking collective, Instituto Gráfico de Chicago and is a teaching artist. Garcia has exhibited nationally and his work can be found in the collections of the National Museum of Mexican Art, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Cast Zambuigua: De Gachupin e India, criado por Tio Sam. Of Gachupin and India, raised by Uncle Sam, Slip-cast porcelain, 22”x9”x10” each, 2013
Artist Statement I created Cast Zambuigua as an artist in residence at the Arts/Industry residency program at Kohler, Wisconsin. Chicano identity is complex and implicates ethnicity, nationality, culture, race and politicization. In my attempt to define what is a “Chicano” in the most simplified and uncomplicated sense, a Chicano is someone of Spanish European and Indigenous Mexican heritage, but who is born and raised in the United States. A Chicano is an amalgamation of these different cultures and I wanted to make a symbolic representation of this complicated and multilayered identity. This porcelain figure references famous sculptures from each of the three distinct cultures that make Chicanos who we are. They are layered on top of each other to create a single hybrid form. As the base, I choose the legs from Mexico’s well-known Aztec goddess Coatlicue. The torso layer is Europe’s famous Venus de Milo and for the head I chose the iconic Statue of Liberty to represent the United States. These three female deities from around the world represent the cultural makeup of a Chicano. By creating this multi-layered statue I wanted to visualize the seamless strata of arts, cultures, and conquests that are most prominent in Chicano identity.
JOEL “rage.one” GARCIA
Raul, Serigraph, 40”x30”, 2015
Fabian, Serigraph, 40”x30”, 2015
Bio Joel Garcia (Huichol) is an artist, arts administrator and cultural organizer with 20+ years of experience working transnationally focusing on community-centered strategies. His approach is rooted in Indigenousbased forms of dialoguing and decision-making (non-hierarchical) that uplifts non-institutional expertise. Joel uses art and organizing to raise awareness of issues facing underserved communities, inner-city youth, and other targeted populations. He’s the co-founder of Meztli Projects, an Indigenous based arts & culture collaborative centering indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles, by using arts-based strategies to advocate for and organize to highlight issues impacting native artists and youth. He served as Co-Director at Self Help Graphics & Art (‘10-’18), and Co-Chair of The California Endowment’s Building Healthy CommunitiesBoyle Heights Youth Development Campaign. He’s a fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute, Monument Lab and uses printmaking to explore masculinity through Indigenous perspectives. Currently, he’s co-leading a process to redefine violence for the new Office of Violence Prevention for the purpose of developing new strategies to prevent and reduce violence in Los Angeles County. Since 2014, Joel has been using printmaking and aloe vera based inks to explore masculinity through Indigenous perspectives as-well-as Indigenous-based conflict resolution strategies. Artist Statement Tatewari (Reborn Through Fire) is a serigraph portrait-based series uplifting members of the Los Angeles’ Xicano/Indigenous community who have survived street-violence and addictions to become agents of healing. This series was produced using experimental screen-printing techniques incorporating medicinal plants such as aloe vera into the inks. This project’s purpose is to bring forward stories of redemption on reconciliation as a way of countering society’s reliance on the carceral system as our means for rehabilitation. For hundreds of years, Indigenous communities have developed sophisticated processes to bring back harmony into communities when harm has been created. Practices such as these have led to the development of community-centered approaches to violence reduction such as Restorative Justice and Practices, Transformative Justice, Trauma-Informed, Healing Centered Practices, etc., useful and extremely important to non-institutional approaches. When connected to ceremonial centers, they offer whole communities a renewed understanding of harmony and these portraits, of men such as Fabian and Raul, are examples of how Indigenous Practices and Ceremonies can help guide men back to precolonial understandings of masculinity. Fabian Debora, a well-known studio artist in LA, is former Substance Abuse Program Director at Homeboys Industries and founder of Somos LA Arte an organization using art-based practices to help those re-entering our communities after being incarcerated. Raul, a Sundancer, former Director of Programs at the American Indian Changing Spirits Recovery Program, both battled addiction and experienced street violence and now use these experiences to help others out of that darkness. 31
NABIL GONZALEZ Bio Nabil Gonzalez holds a double BFA degree in Printmaking and Graphic Design from the University of Texas at El Paso and an MFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. As a studio artist, Gonzalez’s works have been focused on social and political views affecting the borderland area of the United States and Mexico. In her work, Gonzalez explores the erasure and reestablishing of identity through the repetition and layering of images, marks, and materials. Through her work, Gonzalez tries to shake and bring awareness to a society that has become numb and unresponsive to the brutal acts of violence towards minority groups. But most importantly she wants to be a voice for the countless murdered, disappeared victims of social and political injustice. Gonzalez’s works have been shown throughout the United States, Mexico, Colombia, and China. Her artist books and prints are included in museum collections and library special collections in the United States. Artist Statement The purpose of my artwork is to memorialize the disappeared women, and at the same time, to raise consciousness amongst present day societies. Through subtle and ambiguous imagery, I aim to draw the viewer in for a closer look where, upon examination, an unexpected factor of grotesque brutality is revealed. The layering and repetition of textures, scents, and cultural symbolism establish an intimate connection between the violent subject matter and the viewer. The work is beautiful, which belies a haunting and disturbing message of sexually violent acts, making the viewer uneasy. With my work I transmit specific emotions; I want the viewer to feel sadness, uneasiness, and disgust. My intent is to seductively draw in the viewer with immediate visual beauty while simultaneously positioning them as the abuser as I challenge their perspectives towards the subject at hand. I wish to immerse myself in the importance of memory by challenging the established criteria of what is appropriate and inappropriate in society. Through my use of imagery and materials, I want to push boundaries and raise awareness. Mostly, I intend to have the viewer take responsibility as an active member of society by triggering their senses and exposing the unexpected, embedding a message in the viewer’s mind and transforming their reality.
Removed Series (1-4), Intaglio print with Xerox transfer, sumi ink and wax, 11”x15” each, 2018
LISA GUEVARA Bio Lisa Guevara received her Bachelors in Fine Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015. Lisa has been included in a number of regional solo and group shows in Tugboat Gallery (Lincoln, NE), Petshop Gallery (Omaha, NE), and Plug Projects (Kansas City, MO). With a degree emphasizing in ceramics and painting, she now incorporates recyclables, found objects, and other non-traditional materials to break away from conventional expectations of each medium. Lisa currently creates and lives in Texas.
The Shirt I Wore When You Told Me to Fuck Off, Fabric, acrylic, yarn, felt, suede on wood, 6”x9.25”, 2019
Artist Statement Growing up in a low income, single parent home raised me to be resourceful and taught me to find gratitude in the worn and hard working. This has greatly impacted my art practice; I create mixed media assemblage which commemorates the mundane object, yet changes it into a mutation of memory and survival. Naturally, the items I use are accessible to me: plastic, paint, used clothing, lunch boxes, gifts, and keepsakes. Their history, along with their impact on the environment, fuel a narrative surrounding the past and present, anxiety, and the need to cope using humor most of all. Without a plan in mind, I embrace spontaneity, tactile seduction, and instant gratification to guide my decisions. I let impermanence guide the outcome and disregard the idea that a work is ever truly finished.
Spilled Contents, Mixed media, 40”x103”, 2019 33
LILIA BERENICE HERNANDEZ GALUSHA Bio Originally from Torreon Coahuila, Mexico, Lilia Berenice Hernandez Galusha immigrated to Arkansas with her family when she was five years old. She lived in Arkansas for twenty-three years, where she received her Bachelors of Fine Art from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Lilia currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where she moved to pursue a Masters of Fine Art. She received her Masters degree from the MFA Applied Craft + Design program in May 2019. Lilia considers herself a multidisciplinary artist and allows the concept to dictate the medium. The stories she tells are ones of immigration, family, self discovery, and assimilation. Lilia uses her studio practice to investigate ways of providing validation, representation and understanding to herself and others. Artist Statement Lilia Berenice Hernandez Galusha approaches each work focused on an experience. She believes our lived experiences teach our bodies how to navigate our surroundings and people around us. Thus, it is important to exchange our stories so we can better understand the stories our bodies never experienced. Through a multimedia studio practice Lilia looks for ways to tell narratives that deliver validation, understanding, or representation. Her stories are ones about immigration, family, self discovery, and assimilation. Ancestral inheritance and personal experiences accumulate and our bodies become databases of lived knowledge. So how do we reconnect to our bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s database with agency and intention; and what do we gain in reconnecting to those memories?
Manifesto of Proof, Video, 54 seconds, 2019
Spictacle II: Tortillera, Video, color, sound, 4:10 mins, 2015
Bio Xandra Ibarra is an Oakland-based performance artist from the US/Mexico border of El Paso/Juarez who sometimes works under the alias of La Chica Boom. Ibarra uses performance, video, and sculpture to address abjection and joy and the borders between proper and improper racial, gender, and queer subjects. Ibarra’s work has been featured at Ex Teresa Arte Actual (Mexico), El Museo de Arte Contemporañeo (Colombia), The Broad Museum (LA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF) and Joe’s Pub (NYC) to name a few. Recent residencies include Marble House Project, Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, National Performance Network, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has been awarded Lucas Artist Fellowship for Visual Art, The Queer|Art Award for Recent Work, the Eisner Film and Video Prize, the Art Matters Grant, The Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award, NALAC Fund for the Arts, and the Franklin Furnace Performance and Variable Media Award. As a community organizer, Ibarra’s work is located within immigrant, antirape and prison abolitionist movements. Since 2003, she is an active member of Survived and Punished (California) and has actively participated in organizing with INCITE!, a national feminist of color organization dedicated to creating interventions at the intersection of state and interpersonal violence. Ibarra has taught Ethnic Studies, Sexuality Studies, and History and Theory of Contemporary Art courses. Adjunct and part-time teaching posts have included: San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts and San Francisco State University. Artist Statement From 2002 to 2012, Ibarra performed hundreds of live “spictacles” under the alias La Chica Boom. In this 10year project, she embodies my own racial and sexual abjection and directly engaged the politics of racialized sexuality to discover queer forms of pleasure. In Spictacle II: La Tortillera, Ibarra takes on her own racial bondage to hot sauce, tacos, and demographic panic. She dances to a 60’s border corrida as a parodic Mexican housewife, makes tacos with her panties, and jacks off/spreads her seed onto to the tacos with her Tapatio cock strap-on.
ERICK IÑIGUEZ Bio Erick Iñiguez is a Chicano photographer born & raised in the San Fernando Valley, California. He is a proud transfer student of LA Valley College and UCSB, an AS220 Practice// Practice Alumni in 2018 (RI), a NALAC Leadership Institute Alumni 2018 (TX), an Arts for LA: ACTIVATE Fellow in 2019 (CA). He has been a continuous advocate of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore.
Lxs Reinas del Valle, Digital photograhy archival print, 14”x11”, 2018
Standing Rock Thankstaking, Digital Photography archival print, 11”x14”, 2016
Artist Statement Erick Iñiguez captures his diverse communities, people, places, and the events of Los Angeles and specifically the San Fernando Valley. As a Street photographer, he focuses on people and areas that surround him day-today but, as a Photojournalist, he captures images of larger movements, campaigns, or individuals that are part of a story of social change. He’s influenced and inspired by Photographers such as; Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Ansel Adams, Sebastiao Salgados and Gordon Parks. He hopes his work goes beyond documenting and becomes a conduit for community empowerment.
MICHAEL R. LEÓN Bio Michael R. León is a first generation Mexican-American born in Santa Barbara, California. He received his Bachelors in Painting and Drawing in 2008 from San Francisco State University. In 2015 he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in Painting. Michael’s work has been show in Los Angeles, New York, Istanbul, and Taiwan. Michael lives and works in Fountain Valley, California.
The Shroud, Acrylic on indigo dyed canvas, 23”x17”, 2019
Artist Statement Narrative is the main component in my work. I look for contemporary stories and historical moments that have become myth as subject for my artwork. Everything from ufo’s, bank robbers, family stories. and sports heroes have become subject matter in my paintings. I believe we continue to have a human need for mythology and the ancient mythos have not changed but have become recast by new actors and locations.
Kiss, Acrylic on indigo dyed canvas, 64”x40”, 2019 37
MARK ANTHONY MARTINEZ Bio Mark Anthony Martinez is a San Antonio based artist, whose work investigates the socio-political realities of racialized identity in the contemporary United States. Martinez also co-curates for Fake Gallery and holds an MFA from Portland State University. Artist Statement Beige Rage (iteration #3), is about whiteness. As a visibly brown (but “not dark”) person, I often contemplate the status or position of my own racialized identity within society’s matrix of power and privilege. So often, race is cast as something that “non-whites” have. This way of thinking, regardless of intent, renders whiteness as the “norm,” neutral or altogether invisible in its relation to others. Beige Rage is an attempt to make said whiteness unavoidable in the gallery and, stand in as a visible cue that hopefully allows a viewer room to contemplate the privileges of neutrality, vis-a-vis the gallery’s “white walls”.
Paper Cut, Foamcore mounted photographic print, 36”x36”x36”, 2016
ROBERT MARTINEZ Bio Robert Martinez was born on the Wind River Reservation in Riverton, Wyoming. He attended Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design and in 3 years he graduated becoming the Youngest Native American to graduate at that time. His Northern Arapaho & Chicano heritage remains a constant inspiration and source of ideas for his work. Living in Wyoming amongst the hard working people of the west and experiencing their issues also influences his creations. The past and present often resonate strongly throughout his work. Robert was recently honored with his home state’s highest creative honor, the Wyoming Governors Art Award. You can currently see select pieces of his work as part of the permanent collection for the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian in Washington DC, The Plains Indian Museum at the Bill Cody Center of the West, and the Red Cloud Heritage Museum. We are here We have not forgotten We have been killed but still live on We fought with you then and we fight with you now We befriended you then and we befriend you now We have been forced to adopt your ways but still hold on to our own We watch TV but still revere nature We enjoy the movies but love visiting with our tribal elders We have smartphones but we also keep our sacred objects We listen to all forms Hip Hop and Rock but still dance and sing to a rawhide drum We all have white, black, brown and yellow friends whom we treat like family because they are We are a myriad of different shades and quantum’s of red We’re familiar with high fashion but still wear moccasins when we want to We love fast food but we can be fast hunters of our own We have read the Bible, the Torah, The Koran and we still keep our Ceremonies We are Producers, Writers, Lawyers, and Doctors and we are Drummers, Singers, Dancers and Artists We have your problems and we have our own We are here We are not what you Expect
Why, Airbrushed acrylic and oil on linen, 30”x40”, 2018
Sko’den, Airbrushed acrylic and oil on linen, 30”x40”, 2018
YVETTE MAYORGA Bio Yvette Mayorga is a multimedia installation artist. She uses confection, industrial materials, and American iconography like the board game Candy Land as a conceptual framework to juxtapose the borderlands of the US/Mexico. Mayorga holds an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mayorga has exhibited at The Vincent Price Art Museum, EXPO Chicago, Art Design Chicago, LACMA’s Pacific Standard Time, the Chicago Artists Coalition, The National Museum of Mexican Art, and GEARY Contemporary. Mayorga has attended the The Fountainhead Residency, BOLT Residency, and is a recipient of the MAKER Grant. She has been featured in ARTFORUM, Artnet, Art News, Chicago Magazine, Hyperallergic, Teen Vogue, The Guardian, and on the cover of the Chicago READER. Her work has been featured in arts advocacy conversations like the Arts Alliance Illinois. Mayorga was recently awarded the Emerging Legacy Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Smile More Riot Control , Acrylic piping on canvas, 36”x36”, 2019
Objects Left Behind, Acrylic piping on canvas, 36”x36”, 2019 40
Artist Statement In my multimedia installations I tackle issues of race, identity, and gender using visual tropes of celebration. My work is directly informed by the politics within and beyond the US/Mexico border, with particular interest in its broad effects across generations and geography. My work highlights the transnational narratives that arise after crossing geopolitical borders. Drawing inspiration from the material culture of southwestern border, my life as a firstgeneration Latinx artist, and my parents’ experience as immigrants in the 1970s, my work examines how uncertainty is covered with a veneer of celebration. I employ candycolored confectionary, industrial materials, and American folk iconography, such as the board game CandyLand, as a conceptual framework to juxtapose the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico. My hand-manufactured worlds are adorned with rapacious iconography of creamy colonial rococo aesthetics and gendered toys that interrogate the meaning of “status” both as a question of class and citizenship. The industrial materials and frosting piped across media address the generations of gendered familial labor in baking, construction, and lineages of factories of candy production. The spaces in the Candy Lands of my work relate to immigrant’s utopian visions of the American Dream. The smell, decoration, and consumerist iconography in my work serve to critique the glut of violence at the border and beyond.
GILDA POSADA Bio Gilda is a Xicana cultural worker from Southeast Los Angeles. Gilda received her AB from UC Davis in Chicana/o Studies and Comparative Literature. She graduated with a dual degree from California College of the Arts in the MFA Social Practice program and the M.A. Visual and Critical Studies program. Prior to her graduate work, she served as the Curator for GalerĂa de la Raza in San Francisco, CA and Assistant Director for Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer in Woodland, CA. Currently, Gilda is a Ph.D. student in History of Art at Cornell. As a practicing artist, Gilda is an active member of the artist collective Espacio Tercero. Her work has been exhibited nationally, most notably in Xicanx Futurity and the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA).
Citizenship, organza fabric sewn over vinyl, 2017
Artist Statement Piyali. I am a Queer Xicana cultural worker. Xicanx is an idea that strives towards social justice and creating a world that leads us towards decolonization and healing. Xicanx as an idea is fluid; it changes; it goes where it needs to go, when it needs to go; it is open to change and it is never stagnant. My work as a xicanx cultural worker is to work beyond the borders and borders that are/were created to uphold colonial ideals. I believe that we are a peoples that suffered immense trauma and violence, and the work I produce seeks to undo that and create an alternative futurity for our generations that are to come. Tlazcamati miac.
Oda a Gloria Anzaldua, Silkscreen and organza fabric with gold thread, 2017 41
IRENE ANTONIA DIANE REECE Bio Irene Antonia Diane Reece was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and lives and works between the United States and Europe. She graduated with her B.F.A (2018) in Photography and Digital Media at the University of Houston and is currently an M.F.A (2020) candidate at Paris College of Art in Photography and Image-making. She exhibited a solo exhibition in 2017 at Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX in collective at the Artist Community Collective in Houston, Texas, and in collective 2018 at Le Bateau-Lavoir in Paris, France. She’s currently exhibiting work for a collective exhibition in 2019-2020 in Paris, Barcelona, Utrecht, and San Antonio, Texas. Her series Billie-James will be exhibited at the 5th Biennale Internationale de Casablanca in 2020. Her array of photographic works, appropriated films, usage of text, and found objects create an insight towards issues that revolve around racial identity, African diaspora, social injustice, family histories, and mental and community health issues. She identifies as a contemporary artist and visual activist. Her recent work questions society’s perspectives on her racial identities and combats the social norms in regards to being a Black Mexican woman living in the United States and Europe. Her work pushes boundaries and forces her viewers to confront issues that are deemed difficult to tackle. Statement Reece, born and raised in the South of the United States, with a father that was brought up during the Civil Rights Movement, has created a linkage from her childhood upbringing to his. The reasoning behind the display of family archives, word art, and contemporary installation was to create a parallel between the artist’s father’s life and her own. While one is a Black boy growing up in America during the 1950’s vs. a biracial, half Black half Mexican girl in the 1990’s, it permeates that nothing has changed, regarding discrimination and racism. Imagery of the black image through forms of visual activism and her stance of injustice towards black bodies, police brutality, colorism and colorblindness are being showcased throughout the installation. Reece is wanting to eliminate the sole narrative and negative perception of the black individual. While moving abroad to France, Reece encountered a similar racism that she experienced back home, from overt to covert racism. It then forced her to self-reflect about her position as an artist, woman of color, and activist. Her work forces her viewers to encounter what some Black bodies experience everyday of their life. With this body of work Reece also has been focusing on Black Liberation for her communities. When speaking on the terms of society living in the past, she uses the same rhetoric but for empowerment. The same usage in her photographs and hidden messages is to create a feeling of being liberated and being proud to be Black.
Billie-James, 20 Photographs (installation), Dimensions variable, 2018 42
XAVIER ROBLES ARMAS Bio Xavier Robles Armas (b.1991 Zacatecas, Mexico), is a multidisciplinary artist and curator, based in Brooklyn by way of Santa Ana, CA. He holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute where he studied photography. Through photography, sculpture, and installation he investigates the magic and potential within the strata of cities. Xavier seeks moments of transformation and new opportunities to re-imagine and create image worlds through a critical lens that (dis)assembles implicated power structures within the quotidian. He has exhibited at the Cultural Flow Zone of the Universita Ca’Foscari (Venice, Italy 2018), in Hiketa, Japan in partnership with Tokyo Arts University (2018), and in Chicago (2019).
Tender Cactus, Archival inkjet print and sculpture, Dimensions variable, 2019
Artist Statement I contemplate material lexicons of the everyday to find alternate modes of reading, listening, and seeing the universe. In between sculpture, painting, and photography, I assemble and collage to create image worlds and generate possibilities for discovery and interruption. By investigating the strata of cities, I construct images as spaces and spaces as images. My expression reimagines, critiques, exaggerates, and fragments underlying core structures that persist today. With humor, play and a touch of magic, I transform and allow for objects, time, and images to collide with another to further address the unstable moments of becoming citizen, migrant, and belonging.
8 a.m Sunday Morning, Archival inkjet print, 36”x24”, 2019
NATALIA ROCAFUERTE Bio Natalia Rocafuerte is a Mexican-American new media artist, filmmaker and community organizer creating work on perception, analog technology and spatial identity. Born in Cuidad del Carmen, Campeche to a pianist and ballerina, Rocafuerte was encouraged to expand her techniques in visual art from an early age. She obtained her first muralist residency at the age of fifteen in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas MX and more recently has been an artist in residence for Ballroom Marfa. Rocafuerte was part of the 2018 Young Latinx Artists exhibit highlighting immigrant and Latinx artists at Mexic-Arte Museum as well as being awarded a performance grant from Jolt Texas. She is also a recent fellow for the New York Foundation for the Arts Immigrant Mentorship program. Rocafuerte has created video projection projects for The Contemporary Austin, the Menil Collection and Future Traditions Festival at the Museum of Human Achievement. She is a current member of Chulita Vinyl Club, a nationwide Latinx women and nonbinary disk jockey collective. Encouraging a phenomenological experience by using unconventional technologies, my work is a way to broadcast my experience as an immigrant and gender non-conforming individual. Through the use of non-narrative printmaking, expressive videos and sound recordings, my installations are created with site-specific spatial history in mind. Using a process of collecting lived experiences and spatial history, I capture my or the local community’s view of a space. I am inspired by non-conformity, my upbringing in Texas/Mexico border, and analog media.
Tower of Duality, Video installation warping an interactive live feed with colors through a video synthesizer, 4’x4’x1.5’, 2020
Artist Statement Drawing from my own experience of duality within being mestizo and gender non-conforming, Tower of Duality is a reflection of two images within oneself. There is one crisp image that is haunted by the ghost of another live feed, feeding one image from another. The sculpture intertwines two images of the viewer by using analog video synthesis to glitch and meld the two illustrations of oneself. Celebrating Rasquache spatial imaginary, Tower of Duality is a resourceful admixture of drawings, cables and analog junk adhering to one statement of presence. This piece is a meditation on our perceived self and our reflected image.
ALÁN SERNA Bio Alán Serna (b. 1992) is a mixed media artist from Huanusco, Zacatecas now living and working in San Antonio, TX. In 2018, Serna earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2015 from the University of Texas at San Antonio where he is currently a professor of painting and foundations. Artist Statement My practice utilizes a range of processes, including traditional printmaking, mass-produced ephemera, and digital mapping to chronicle my family’s personal and political immigrant narratives. I utilize views shaped by my bi-national upbringing to create a visual language that allows me to process and depict my experiences growing up in the United States and Mexico.
Trabajando los Seguros, Laminated transfer photograph, 2019
Viva México, Transfer photograph, 2019 45
ANA TREVIÑO Bio Ana Treviño (b. 1984) is a new media artist based out of Austin, TX. Her practice investigates border politics, identity politics, and hybrid cultures through video, installation and performance. Examining how place and geography develop shifts in society is what interests her. She aims to reintegrate her heritage by renovating traditions into new conditions.
Probar Fortuna, HD Video, 4:41, 2018
Probar Fortuna, HD Video, 4:41, 2018
Artist Statement Probar Fortuna is a video reenactment based on a true account of a man crossing the U.S./Mexico border in pursuit of a better life for himself and his family. This trek allows viewers to recognize the similarities in today’s immigrant stories. Probar Fortuna attempts to tell and understand how an immigrant’s decision to leave their home is not what we all believe it to be.
JESUSA MARIE VARGAS Bio My artist moniker is Jesusa Marie Vargas, “Jesusa” was a nickname given to me by my Spanish speaking mother as a child. Now, as an adult, I have come to appreciate the identity my mother created for me as both Mexican and American. Jesusa, for me, is one symbolic way I bridge and embrace two cultures. I was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1981. My mother was born in Michoacán, Mexico and was crossed over, illegally, at the age of fourteen into the United States. Growing up, I came to experience what scholars have called an “otherness” and much of my artwork acts as my form of autohistoria. I was a teen mother at age 16 and I am now married with four daughters. I obtained my BFA at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2018.
Conocimiento, Wood, graphite, acrylic, paper clay, heirloom rocking chair and decor, artist’s skirt, 47”x22”x24”, 2017
Artist Statement My artwork is an interpretation of my personal stories and shared oral histories that shape and form part of my identity. The need to document and remember experiences inspires me and is the driving forces that sparks my creative processes. Allowing myself the liberty to share stories through 2-D media, sculpture, or video also allows me the creative freedom to explore how best a story or memory can be shared. My admiration and respect for artesanía “folk-art” inspires the approach I take when beginning my work. This determines the material or process of creating the artwork that will best impact the overall visual narrative. Found objects are often incorporated because of the personal attachment or memory linked to them. Literature written by Dr. Gloria Anzaldua and by Dr. Carmen Tafolla on Chicana cultural theory and experiences has been the emotional catalyst in how I approach my artwork.
Nana, Wood, Hand carved wood, ceramic jars, hand carved eggs, incense, aloe, chamomile, family photos, heirloom fabric, wood and carpet from childhood homet, 65”x24”x12.5”, 2018
TANYA GARCIA / JUAN ORTIZ Bios Tanya Garcia is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Baltimore, MD. In 2014, Garcia received her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art and is the recipient of awards such as the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation’s Fellowship in collaboration with Creative Alliance, as well as the Intercultural Leadership Institute’s 2018-19 national fellowship cohort. She participated in residencies including ACRE and awarded TrueQué’s curated residency in Ecuador themed, Natural Hybrids: Frictions Between Art and Ecology. Garcia was also co-founder of an internationally recognized literary arts publication, HYRSTERIA. Juan Ortiz is an artist, activist and community organizer who was most recently Creative Alliance’s Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Fellow for 2016 – 2017. Ortiz is a graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in the Community Arts Masters in Fine Arts program. He is presently a doctoral student and fellow in Mexican American studies at the University of Arizona. He also holds a Masters in Art and Public Policy from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary studies from the University of Texas, El Paso. For his work in the Southeast Baltimore Latinx community, Ortiz was selected as a Community Partner to the White House Action Summit in 2015. Ortiz’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and amongst his most recent honors has also been designated a Baltimore Social Innovation Fellow (2016), is currently an Open Philanthropy Project Fellow, and was recently a guest speaker at CityLab Baltimore hosted by the Atlantic magazine, the Aspen Institute and Bloomberg Philanthropy. Originally from El Paso, Ortiz has lived, worked and studied in East Baltimore for the past four years although he has participated on various nationwide and international social justice campaigns. Among them, the Force, Border Tour of the Monument Quilt and Cosecha national campaign for immigration reform.
Artist Statements Light and darkness are intrinsic components of photography and the moving image. Its etymology is Phōtos meaning light and graphé meaning write in Greek. As artist Lina Iris Viktor states: “Black and white are extremes (of the same spectrum). “Black is the full absorption of light. And white is the full negation of light”. This physical principal gives deeper meaning to the metaphor used to describe undocumented people as “living in the shadows”. The same is often said of people who have been disenfranchised by the criminal justice system. By allowing people directly affected by mass incarceration and immigration detention to express themselves, to write their life in light...they reveal their life, they reveal their light. They enlighten shadows to reveal a deep sense of humanity. And it is because of those principles of resilience and dignity, in the face of adversity, selfsacrifice and community that the people “in the shadows” are the ones truly displaying light! The light of humanity and we the people “in the light” are actually the ones in the shadows. We are the ones in the dark ages of our epoch, of our humanity! And it is the people relegated “to the shadows” exhibiting the better angels of our nature, the better nature of our beings! Individuals responded anonymously sharing their relationship to light and shadow as an undocumented immigrant and how their circumstance relates to the incarceration of immigrants, people of color, fears of Sb4, being American, and the denial of human rights. Tanya Garcia is motivated by personal disconnect to homeland as a diasporan and second generation Puerto Rican, and is invested in the exploring the intersections between land, body, and memory as a process of redefining her relationship to place. With this framework, she engages with themes and theories of colonialism, diaspora, and forms of adaptation that exist not only within the body, but the geographical landscape. Garcia understands body as a multiplicity of forms not specific to humans and that bodies that have potential to affect and be affected. The purpose of her work is to complicate the geographical and socio-political narratives through time-based media such as photography, audio, video, and performance. In the past, her work referred to concepts of borders, immigration, and social difference in collaboration with communities local to Baltimore, Maryland.
Life in Shadows: Written in Light, Video, 14:12, 2017
KALLI ARTE COLLECTIVE Bio Kalli Arte is a collective started by two self-taught Xicanx artist: Adriana Carranza and Alfonso Aceves. The couple is based in Boyle Heights, where they were born and raised. They find inspiration through their four children, their culture and their community in Boyle Heights. Artist Statement Kalli is our home. The foundation of our culture. It allows for our survival and protection. We must understand that the status of our bodies, home, and community reflects the status of our spirits.
Teltica/Con Fuego/With Fire, Mixed media, 2019
LAS IMAGINISTAS Bio Las Imaginistas formed as border art collective in 2016. Founded by Celeste de Luna, Nansi Guevara, and Christina PatiĂąo Houle the group has now expanded to include more than 15 co-collaborators and makers. Las Imaginsitas are recipients of the ArtPlace America National Creative Placemaking Award (2018), were Blade of Grass Fellows (2018), and are supported by Interchange (2019). Founding members hold degrees from Harvard University School of Education, Columbia University School of Fine Arts, Texas Pan American and the University of Texas Austin. Their work has been exhibited at the Texas Biennial, the Gloria AnzaldĂşa Mundo Zurdo conference, Movement Research and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Artist Statement The Imaginistas are a socially engaged art collective working on the US/Mexico border in Brownsville Texas. Our work infuses the everyday with the magical, asking the viewer to rethink how they see the world around them and to reconsider what is and is not possible. We believe all people should have opportunities to build communities that support joyful living. We view cities as holistic and breathing spaces that shape all facets of resident life: from economic justice to social equity and cultural identity. The fabric of being and belongingness is woven into the spaces we inhabit. We dream, we build bridges, we build community capacity, and we take action to embody and construct new futures. We believe equity is a material and embodied practice: people who co-created this work strengthened their expertise by sculpting, cooking, performing and writing to build a more equitable world. We are inviting you to build it with us.
Imagining a Decolonized Future at the Border, Film, 6:19, 2019 51
ARTIST INTERVIEWS Interviewer Bio:
Claudia Zapata is a doctoral candidate in Southern Methodist University’s RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture: Ph.D. Program in Art History. She received her B.A. and M.A. from University of Texas in Art History, specializing in Classic Maya art. Her research interests include curatorial methodologies of identity-based exhibitions, Chicanx and Latinx art, digital humanities, people of color zines, and designer toys. From 2010 to 2014, she served as the Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the MexicArte Museum in Austin, Texas. Zapata has curated several exhibitions at the Mexic-Arte Museum and other Texas institutions, including A Viva Voz: Carmen Lomas Garza (2010), Sam Coronado: A Retrospective (2011), and Fantastic & Grotesque: José Clemente Orozco in Print (2014). Claudia has published articles in El Mundo Zurdo: Selected Works from the Meetings of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa, Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas, Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, Jollas: Journal of Latino/Latin American Studies, and the Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. She is currently working on essay for publication in Debates in Digital Humanities. From 2018-2020, Claudia is the Latinx art curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in support of the exhibition ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965-Now.
Interview with Robert Martinez November 19, 2019 Claudia Zapata: Where are you from, and tell me a little bit about how you started your art practice? Robert Martinez: Well, I am Robert Martinez, and I am Chicano and Northern Arapaho, Irish, French. My bio lists them all; I learned early on if I am going to list one of them I might as well list all of them. So, I have all of them there and proud of all of them. I was raised right here in the central Wyoming on the Wind River Reservation. In 1997 I graduated from the Rocky Mountain College at the age of nineteen as the youngest Native American: that’s how I usually self-identify. Growing up I learned more about my Arapaho culture than I did of my Chicano culture. Most of my art deals with Native perspective, however very recently I wanted to explore more of my Latino… or Chicano… or Mexican…. or however we term now; it seems like there seems to be different terms about every two to three months now, so I’m not sure what the favorite is this week. I want to look into that more within myself, so I was really happy and surprised to be asked in this particular exhibit. I don’t get to exhibit my art very much in the eastern half of the United States usually its more regional over here. I do have artwork in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Claudia Zapata: Your artwork often includes a Native figure combined with a very overt pop culture reference in the form of a t-shirt or a prop of some kind. Walk me through those juxtapositions, and what are they aiming to achieve. Robert Martinez: In my travels, when it comes to non-Native perspective on a Native people, they either forget that we are even alive, or they have a very romanticized and misconstrued expectation of what Native art is and who native people are. So
that’s what my work tends to try and do: is adjust those expectations. I take a lot of documents from the ledger art tradition. In the late 1800s the Plains tribes are being pushed on the reservations, and they were hunting the buffalo to extermination. We couldn’t make traditional story hides. I’m sure you’ve seen flat figures on a buffalo hide or elk hide; so instead of using those we would trade the soldiers, or whomever, for already filled out ledger books, like banking books. They were already filled out, and they had no use for them. So, they gave them to us, and we would disregard the background, and we would draw over those so that it became this two-dimensional artwork that was traditional, and we’ve kept it going so to today you still see more traditional style Native ledger art. I’ve kind of grown out of that. I have a really realistic style instead of disregarding the background I will use specific pieces of paper like maps. I will put a face on a map, pamphlet, or something that says something about the “Old West” and the way that it used to be, but pretty much put a figure that has a little bit of that romanticized Native ideal. Then I mix it with something that’s more today, that’s recognizable, to say, “We’re here, and we’re still here; you just have this weird outlook on how you see us.” Claudia Zapata: Your color palettes tend to be extremely bright, almost neon; is this also a method of subverting Native representation? Robert Martinez: I use bright colors in response to the black and white or sepia-toned portraits of historical natives. You see those, and you always get a feeling of, “Oh, they’re gone, those people aren’t here anymore. You know, there’s nothing left.” But we’re still here, we never left. So, I use those bright colors in direct response to that. Many of the figures are forward facing looking at the viewer— confronting—rather than the looking to the side or something “safe.” That’s another thing I’m trying to do is confront and adjust expectations of what native art is. Claudia Zapata: Do you feel like in a post-Standing
Rock U.S, do you feel like native voices are being more prominently heard? Robert Martinez: I think they’re being heard more. One of my things, when I give talks or speak on panels, is that there shouldn’t really need to be a specific Xicanx exhibit; we should already be exhibited. We just don’t get enough say with everybody else and that’s a problem. One of the things about the Native art economy is that there have been a couple of things that have been around so long that it definitely helps. There’s still a misunderstanding of Natives period and Native art, and I think that Xicanx is really related to that. Especially, anybody from any of the landmasses here in North or South America, because they are all related somehow, maybe distantly, but we are all here in this same landmass.
Interview with Daphne Arthur December 16, 2019 Claudia Zapata: Tell me what you are working on right now. Daphne Arthur: I’m building a boat, which is very exciting. I began building this boat five years ago in my studio in Willoughby, Brooklyn, and continued to develop it in my current studio in Far Rockaway which is kind of far. Because I am in close proximity to the sea I’ve began to use shells and drift wood collected from the shore to add an additional patina, and texture to the boat that reflects the vestiges of time, erosion, and beauty that is inherent in nature and in every shell that is collaged onto the surface of the boat. I’m so happy its almost done. Claudia Zapata: What are you going to do with the boat? Daphne Arthur: I’ve been thinking of the boat as a sculpture and symbol intrinsically linked to ideas 53
of identity for people of the diaspora, thinking of it as a space of trauma, displacement, endurance, adaptation and resilience. It’s nine feet long, and it stands at a forty-five degree angle because I wanted to have this feeling of static inertia. It could feel as if its emerging or sinking like it’s in this tense situation. It’s going to be on a lazy Susan slowly rotating. A motivation to complete this project is driven by going to Kenya this summer. I don’t know where my ancestors are from, but it was an entry point to return to Africa, and it was kind of interesting because I just had a lot of expectations. I was like, “oh my god,” just on the most profound level I’m going back to the homeland. After generations I got to go back but what a disconnection and at the same time familiarity. It’s clear as day, and like a whirlwind of so much happening in your mind because you are sort of consolidating history in a physical way. Claudia Zapata: As an Afro-Latina you are often in these multiple spaces where you have so much access. Daphne Arthur: So much and so not much. I do this; I think I’m compulsive at this point. What I do is look up “afro-venezuelan artist” on Google. I do this every three months, I look up “afrovenezuelan theme and artist.” No hay [There are none]. El otro día salió un tipo [the other day a guy came up], Alirio Palacios. He is the first one I’ve ever seen. I do this shit religiously, because what you see is non-Black; ¿me entiendes? [Do you understand me?] Entonces [then], you have access, but at same time you don’t. I have access in that I have been fortunate to have an education giving to me by the great sacrifice my mom endured and the values that she instilled in me. So, as a child all I did was go to school, church, and Julliard; honestly, all I wanted to do was stay home a watch cartoons, but everything was at stake and all my mom’s sacrifices and hopes were pent-up on me. I have been fortunate to show work and somehow live in the margins of the art world and its institution. But I’ve also devoted my life to my calling as an artist, 54
either through the practice or through teaching. Some people don’t have access to the arts or education. The reason we make it, or the people that make it at some point in their life, they were selected out of few. There’s so many that don’t have the access to begin with but then when you have the “access” you are part of some institution that still doesn’t quiet recognize you or see you. You’ve weeded through somehow, and then you’re like the book, the Invisible Man. I was giving this talk the other day and had to think about this series I did in 2010 called Rapunzel. It’s a series of seven pieces inspired by a visit to Venezuela while I was a junior at SAIC to reconnect with my estranged father. I needed to reconnect, and in that process, I got to meet my half-siblings and extended family. There was so much colorism in the family. He is Black and Andean. His mother was Andean, and his Father or Stepfather was Portuguese. My father grew up with this Portuguese dad, and fair skin siblings and never saw his blackness. We look very much alike, and to me he looks Black. In the United States you will say that he is Afro-Latino, but in Venezuela there is a systemic amnesia where culturally the African influence is erased by all means necessary; you try not to associate with blackness, and if you are Black you try to “better the race.” Before you call yourself a Black individual with African roots you will quickly try to call yourself moreno, or whatever term colonists use to separate, and people play into that shit. The concept of good and bad hair was something they spoke about daily during my visit, and that just shows how far they are willing to negate their own intrinsic nature. So, fast forward, in 2019, there’s just one Afro-Latino Venezuelan artists on the internet. So, there’s no access; it’s an illusion: because its systemic erasure, erasure, erasure. It’s like dehumanization; its kinds of wild, but it happens everywhere.
Interview with Ben Cuevas December 17, 2019 Claudia Zapata: Are you working on any new series? Ben Cuevas: Currently I’m working on my Reinserted series. It’s a photo-based project where I use archival imagery of sex workers and people cruising for sex (mostly queer people but sometimes it’s hard to determine someone’s identity from an old photograph). I research where these photos were taken, then I go that same place and take a photograph of what is there today. I then digitally reinsert the subject from the archival image into the present. I have two pieces from that series on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York as part of a show called On Our Backs: The Revolutionary Art of Queer Sex Work. My current work is looking at queer history and sex cultures in place and how spaces in queer communities get lost over time due to various capitalist influences. Those spaces get coopted by larger hegemonic forces in order to make money for those with power and become more in step with what heteronormative society deem as respectable. Those queer spaces often end up falling away to respectability politics—that’s what I’m highlighting in this new work. Claudia Zapata: Have you been in a Chicano or Xicanx show before? Ben Cuevas: This is my first Xicanx show. I think being in a Chicana or Chicano show specifically would probably be a little too outside of my own identity. The “X’s” in Xicanx really opens it up to people like me—people of Puerto Rican or other Latinx decent whose work is aligned with or parallel to Chicano art. I have been in Latinx art shows, previously. I was in a show at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes here in LA, featuring the work of queer Latinx artists.
Claudia Zapata: How did you get into working with knit materials? Ben Cuevas: I learned knitting from my friend Jessica Ruvalcaba. She learned how to knit from her grandmother, who is from Mexico. Jess came over to my apartment with her knitting one night, and I just really badly wanted to learn how to do it. She taught me how to knit my first few projects— scarves, hats, etc.—and we would spend a lot of evenings just crafting and hanging. Later when I was studying art at Hampshire College, I took a sculpture class, and for the final project we could make a piece out of any medium. I thought it would be a good chance to start experimenting with knitting as sculpture, and that was when I knitted my first anatomical heart. From there it all kind of built on that. Claudia Zapata: As a HIV-positive artist, what your artistic objectives or themes you are highlighting? Ben Cuevas: I think that my work about HIV/AIDS is twofold: there’s the looking back and the looking forward. My work looking back is about going against ephemerality, to give more presence to people who came before me and my generation; honoring people who made it possible for those who have HIV today to thrive and live long, healthy lives. It is to honor their history. The work looking forward is about combating stigma today. You can see that in my PILLows installation where I am creating objects of comfort and inviting people to be at ease talking around issues of HIV and AIDS. I think it helps counteract a lot of the stigma that we still see that’s a big impediment to access to treatment, prevention, and care. Claudia Zapata: Tell me more about your community activism. You’re based out of LA, and are you independent, working with coalitions, organizations, or collectives; how are you politically resisting, so to speak? 55
Ben Cuevas: I’ve partnered often with Visual AIDS on several projects, from STI prevention campaigns, to awareness-oriented art shows and publications. They are a wonderful organization dedicated to preserving the legacies of and providing opportunities to artists with HIV/AIDS. I am also involved in the Radical Faerie movement, and there’s a lot of community organizing that happens there. The scope of the Faeries is broader than just issues of HIV/AIDS, but there is definitely HIV/AIDS advocacy that comes from it. There’s a lot of community building that happens within the Radical Faeries, and it’s been a great way to find people who are interested in art, issues of HIV/AIDS, queer history, environmentalism, queer spirituality and more. Claudia Zapata: Tell me more about the Radical Faeries. Ben Cuevas: It’s a queer movement that started in the 70s. It’s a very loose network of queers, witches, leather folk, trans people, activists and artists who all coalesce around redefining queer consciousness. Claudia Zapata: Is there a specific aesthetic to the Radical Faeries? Ben Cuevas: There is… it’s not really my core aesthetic though. My aesthetic tends toward cleaner lines and is influenced by Pop art and iconography. The Radical Faeries have a lot more sequins and glitter everywhere—sort of an acid drag aesthetic. These interviews were conducted for the the XicanX: New Visions project. The conversations have been edited and condensed for space and clarity.
ABOUT CENTRO DE ARTES Centro de Artes gallery is dedicated to showcasing San Antonio and South Texas Latino/a artists. Found in the heart of the Zona Cultural, an officially designated and state-recognized cultural district, Centro de Artes is dedicated to telling the story of the Latino experience with a focus on South Texas through local and regional art, history, and culture. As a space that is free and open to the public, and located in Historic Market Square - one of the most visited cultural venues in Texas – Centro de Artes is at the center of a cultural and historical crossroads, accessible to residents and visitors, alike. Since October 2016, the Department of Arts & Culture has managed Centro de Artes and showcased the works of more than 160 San Antonio artists. The City of San Antonio continues to support local artists and provide opportunities for them to show their works. Through a robust community-engaged process to develop the Centro de Artes Strategic Plan, the City of San Antonio set a framework, overseen by the Centro de Artes Committee so this mission of celebrating and honoring Latino arts and culture, with a priority on showcasing San Antonio and regional artists, continues. In 2018, the City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture hosted a national open call for exhibitions and related programming for Centro de Artes as part of the strategic plan developed for the gallery in collaboration with the community in 2017. The Centro de Artes committee, a subcommittee of the San Antonio Arts Commission comprised of local community members, reviewed and scored the submitted qualified proposals. XicanX: New Visions was one of the ten exhibitions selected by the Centro de Artes Committee through the inaugural open call. CENTRO DE ARTES COMMITTEE 2019 – 2021 Yadhira Lozano, Chair (San Antonio Arts Commission Member, District 3) Susana Segura (San Antonio Arts Commission Member, District 4) Sarah Gould, Ph.D. Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. Kathy Vargas Paloma Cortez Monica Sosa 2017-2019 Cristina Ballí Adriana Gallego Harvey Mireles Nick Peña