My work in a
broad sense is an investigation of the human experience. How do we balance
within ourselves our spiritual beliefs, our thinking processes, and our feelings?
As well as, how do we settle these beliefs, processes, and feelings outside
of ourselves? And, finally, how are these conclusions manifested in the world
around us? How do we settle the similarities that we find within our differences?
And how do we settle the differences that we find within our similarities?
It is through these questions that I make my work.
As a Chicana raised in San Antonio, Texas, my personal experience has been
vivid. My father's family heritage comes from the poor indigenous Texas Indians
with a strong background in woodcarving. He, being also highly analytical
and a retired government employee at Kelly Air Force Base, spoke to me about
the spiritual quality of life, the need to change the system within the system
and acceptance. My mother on the other hand came from the high Catholic/Spanish
class in Mexico. She spoke to me about rituals, the importance of education
and love. My father who is hard of hearing and my mother who is legally blind
since age 12, both taught me the importance of overcoming obstacles and thinking
for yourself. Finally being raised with sayings such as "If you don't speak
up, God won't hear you," "Work won't kill you, laziness will kill you," "Education
is the only thing that will overcome discrimination," I have developed strong
analytical processes, spiritual awareness, and the assertiveness to want to
be apart of helping the world be a better place. Moving to Denver in 1980
was enlightening. I felt as if I had "crossed the border" into a world of
separation either by economics, race or sex. My need to work with my community,
understand my community and discuss it in my work became stronger.
Therefore, the questions my work mostly addresses are questions about established
spiritual beliefs, established community systems and established discriminations.
I enjoy creating metaphors around overlapping social and personal issues.
These metaphors can manifest themselves into actual physical relationships
such as the actual use of metal, rope, or fishing lures. Or the metaphors
can manifest themselves as symbolic rendered images such as painted flowers,
hand shadows or sky images. Either way, it is the relationships that are created
between these metaphors that bring me to either humorous or sentimental conclusions.
I have always had an affinity to texture for its obvious sensuality and because
of the direct relationship to our physical being. I have been known to burn,
scratch, and poke my materials in order to address this physicality. I also
do not deny and actually enjoy the formal concerns of space both illusionary
and abstract and tend to use repetition, contrast, and color to directly support
the metaphor being established in each work. I also tend to collage, nail
and glue images and objects in order to create a kind of environment as well
as reflect niches, ex-votos, and wall altar pieces of my culture.
Finally, through my work in the public art arena and other community projects,
I am presently committed to developing projects that redefine the notion of
"public" in public art. I am investigating the idea of creating stronger relationships
between the artwork and its community by creating a "call and response" relationship
between the community and myself through two upcoming community/public projects
that the Colorado Council on the Arts has just funded. One called "Being Migrant"
is an actual trailer made to look like a block of land with grass growing
at the top and the walls showing the strata of the ground with its roots,
etc. The inside of the trailer will be text that addresses being migrant.
This trailer will actually migrate through neighborhoods and cities throughout
Colorado next spring. It will appear in several public areas parked while
people walking by can interact with it. The second piece is a piece called
"La Llorona" based on the Mexican folktale. In this piece I will sacrifice
trees and let them die in public places in memory of the total number of children
that have died violent deaths in Colorado. I will have the same number of
women dressed as "La Loronas" wailing amongst the trees. I will involve the
community on different levels of this project from making of the cement form
that holds the trees to creating milagros in response to the trees' death.
Fire In My Backyard
Based on a childhood memory where my father on our way to taking my mother
to the panderia pointed out a beautiful fire in a neighbor's backyard. Later
we found out that it was a cremation suicide. Through this experience I was
moved by the preciousness of life. The beauty of this fire epitomizes the
amazing passion that we have within us. This image also symbolizes an important
aspect of my father. As my father pointed out the fire, so did he show his
three girls the importance of life, living it well, respectfully and passionately.
I placed the fire behind blades of grass squeezed between two plates of glass
in order to show how we sometimes hide these passions in our backyard, or
behind our facades because we may be scared to expose our difference and our
uniqueness. I placed four motorized dancing dolls at the corners of the piece.
These dancers resemble the small blond turning plastic ballerinas from jewelry
boxes of my youth. But I made them dark skinned salsa dancers, a couple, a
man and a woman expressing their passions and sensuality of love through dance.
The sky connects all of the images together symbolizing my many childhood
memories of lying in my backyard looking up at the sky—dreaming, thinking
of endless possibilities and just listening to my breath. Again, my father
taught us that the sky was the limit.
Fear of Heights
I created a series of burnt boxes after investigating termination rituals
based in Mexican tradition. I based the termination series on Fear. Each piece
is made in a 2' x 2' box that is burnt symbolizing
the end of the fear. In the center of the box is a small altar place that
describes the fear. In Fear of Heights, I placed a clay figure on top of a
group of precariously placed chairs to represent the mental anguishes we create
for ourselves, as well as the flimsy mental foundations we develop sometimes.
On the other hand, I gave the clay body wings made of copper wire that contradict
the construction of the chairs in the first place. Because the little clay
being can fly then and doesn't even need the chairs!