MARCH 2013 (COLOMBIA)
Since I began to travel in 2004 my work – drawings, paintings, photographs, and interactive media – has functioned as a registrar of hybrid cultural aesthetics with a particular focus on feminine culture, domesticity, and fashion.
First moving to Argentina, then to South Korea in 2009, the United Kingdom and Colombia in 2012, I have documented a broad scope of imagery reflective of female third space subject-positions, including hair trends, color palettes, gestures, and grooming activities. By mixing visual vocabularies from disparate spaces I question the subject’s origin and the social and cultural norms she subscribes to. In the work Peladas (2013) for example, I have depicted five women, some in poses caught with snapshot photographs in Asia and others copied from family albums from Latin America. Likewise, some of the subjects are dressed in patterns pointing to different histories: stripes and color combinations from traditional Korean paintings from the Joseon Dynasty to fuchsia stripes that shout out to Colombian reggaeton culture.
Apart from the practices of painting and drawing while in Colombia, I have recently begun to use analog photography intervened with paint to push my subjects into different temporal, even mythical, spaces furnished with contemporary cross-cultural imagery.
SEPTEMBER 2011 (SOUTH KOREA)
My works in the show Portraits of Goodbyes discuss my position as an ex-pat Mexican-American female teaching at a military academy in Korea; a post-colonial landscape whose rigid standards of femininity and beauty have haunted my cultural identity. In this body of work, I have selected quotidian images, advertisements about Asian beauty, and photographs from Latin America to address moments from my chronic accepting and resigning of both given and the created identities, as I attempt to assimilate in Korea and to recognize the Korean character. In retrospect, this attempt restrained me from submitting to the stereotypes of the Latina and from paying lip service to the art world, establishing a new relationship between my heritage and me.
DECEMBER 2010 (SOUTH KOREA)
Raised in the U.S., I subscribed to American social rules by modifying my behavior according to my race, gender, and belief systems. In the U.S., like in many other countries, skin color defines its citizens more than their origins. Likewise, I learned to defend and uphold my identity as a “Mexican-American” female, a stereotypically emotional, aggressive, and colorful character, whose part I had enjoyed acting out in pursuit of immediate recognition. I made my work about my ownership of this identity, a victim of social injustices and sexism. However, my perspective from my high perch of the elitist role of an artist made me an inadequate representative for illegal immigrants, struggling students, or factory workers in America.
Knowing this, I left the country again and again to remind myself that the role I had self-appointed only functioned in the context of American social politics, not abroad, and especially not in Asia.
In Korea, my projected identity has been flattened. Where I was accustomed to being seen as Hispanic, South American, or Mexican-American, I was now labeled as another unwelcome, white foreigner. After a year and a half of living with this perception in Seoul, I am learning to let go of my desire to retrace the outlines of my Hispanic role, made real by Western social constructions. Instead, I have begun to highlight the parts of my personality that are of use: my education I was once ashamed of, my western tongues that have become an asset, my vulnerability which has kept me guarded, and my appearance which once trivialized my artwork.
In my paintings, drawings, and photographs, I continue to use the imagery I have always been attracted to: family portraits, religious icons and colonial idols, cultural loaded patterns, and the black and white photograph; only this time, obliterating or extracting fragments from these images. This process of editing my visual vocabulary reflects how I am editing my own concepts of self, social responsibilities, and cultural conditioning.