I just picked up Piri Thomas' Savior, Savior Hold my Hand and Julia Alvarez's collection of essays Something to Declare. My god they are fantastic writers. There's something really raw about both of them though their writing style couldn't be more different. I've also been attending several artists talks. The Lancaster Library recently received funding for PBS's Latino Americans series. There's a series of talks and screenings happening until next Spring and I'm so excited to attend as many as I can. Patricia Johanson came to Millersville for the Conrad Nelson lecture series. Her work is unrelated to my more identity based work, but she's very smart and works between education and fine art. I feel like much of what I'm doing is the same. It reminded me of how excited I was about the cross-section between education and art when I saw Latoya Ruby Frazier at the SPE conference. Both women are well-versed in their area of expertise and take time to really educate their audience beyond the work they produce. It was reassuring to know that I, too, can delve further into the references I'm interested in and take the opportunity to educate my audience as well. I always worry that I'm too much in my own head with the things I want to address.
Moving on, I decided I want to make 12 busts. 12 because I like making 12 of things. Because there are 12 months in a year, the 12 disciples, 12 people in a jury etc. etc. 12 just feels weighty and important and it's the only even number besides 16 that I've gravitated toward. 12 is also the age I was when I really felt 'different' than my peers. I moved to Lancaster in September 2001 from the Bronx. I had transferred to a 5th grade class in Lancaster City and was faced with a very different culture. In New York I felt like race didn't really matter. We celebrated everyone and there were so many different cultures in the area we lived in. We were also so so young. After 9/11, I think everyone became more race conscious. My uncle is has a more ruddy skin tone than his siblings. He worked at a Starbucks near the World Trade Center and had to volunteer handing out coffee and pastries to those that were cleaning what was left of the towers after the attack. I remember him calling several times angry that people would see his skin, assume he was muslim and spit, literally spit, at him and tell him to go back to his country. This was my first real encounter with race and understanding that I'm white-passing. Moving to Lancaster, I didn't 'sound' like my latina counterparts because I had a "New York accent" and most of the latinxs in my grade were bilingual. It was the first time I felt like my voice, my skin, and being from a different city set me further apart from them. We were also attending a baptist church with a primarily african-american congregation. Conversations about my hair, how I talked, how I dressed, and how "I wasn't one of the loud ones" were a daily occurrence. I can't say that I've experienced racism in all of it's ugly forms, but boy do I know micro-aggressions. So, for me, 12 feels like the age I lost a sort of naive sense of who I was and gained a more complex understanding of my culture.
Here is how many pieces I have so far!