We are officially done with our first semester of the residency. All the Millersville students are on break and us EARs have the building to ourselves. I have been questioning so much of my work lately. Feeling like things are just not meshing well but I feel a bit reassured. We had a critique yesterday to mark the midway point and I think it went really well. I got some great feedback and food for thought that I will apply moving forward. I need to think about how the grotesque nature of some of my pieces might skew or color how I'm relating to or attempting to relate to my Latina identity. So far I'm on the right track! Below are the non-bust pieces I have brewing in my brain pot.
Above is a rosary made of birth control pills. I discussed this a few posts ago while it was 'in progress'. It is composed of casts from a blister pack of birth control pills (so they are essentially the voids where the pills used to be). The pendant is made of cloth and wax with gold embossing dust that is burned into layers of wax. With this piece and many of the others that deal with uteri, I was thinking about issues of fertility, femininity and especially cases of forced sterilization of women in the Caribbean. (Read More Here!)
Above is a series of uteri made from the same cloth and wax process I mentioned above and also referencing the same kind of issues I have been thinking about with sterilization and all. I'm playing with applying gold embossing powder to these. I like that red and gold are weaving through all of my work so far.
Behind the uteri are the gilt pasteles I'm working on. They are cast resin pasteles that I've applied gold leaf to. I'm working on how they'll be displayed now. I wanted to comment on how they're traditionally peasant food served primarily during the holidays. I wanted to elevate them and give them the appearance of gold bars. The last image is a meme that has been circulating on Latino social media pages. For us, the pasteles and/or tamales are so ubiquitous during this time of year. Their are jokes about how families come together to assemble them despite differences. The whole process crosses generations and at the same time encapsulates Afro-Carribean, Spanish and Taino culture in one neat package of meat, starches vegetables and banana leaves.
Happy belated Thanksgiving all!
This week has been super productive! Despite catching a cold and Thanksgiving festivities, I managed to wrap lots of pieces up. I burned my fingers pretty badly making one of the busts, but all in all I'm pretty darned happy with how much I managed to finish. Here are the four busts I have so far!
The far left is the newest. She's covered in sugar coated flowers. The flowers are the red carnations a lot of Dominican women wear to greet new arrivals in the airports and resorts. It's kind of kitschy and over done. The whole look is this colonial type outfit with layers of lacey skirts and off the shoulder tops. Its kind of a typical "Latina" costume but the references historically speaking are straight from the Spanish conquistadors stylistic preferences. I wanted to use something that's cheesy and crafty like these fabric flowers and make them even more kitschy by coating them in sugar. I wanted to burn the sugar too make it melty and syrupy too. I like the idea of the bust being stained and dripped on with something that is supposed to be attractive and sweet and yet also a symbolizes the sugar slave trade that took over/destroyed much of the Caribbean. Here are closer views of the busts below:
From top to bottom they are titled "Azuuucaar!", "Borron y Cuenta Nueva (Vejigante)", "La Mancha de Platano". Translation: "Sugar", "Let bygones be bygones or Erase and Start Anew", "The Stain of the Plantain".
This is the newest in progress bust. Its title is "Polo Bueno, Pelo Malo, Pero, Pelo". Translation "Good hair, Bad hair, but, hair". My great grandmother had extremely long hair all of her life and lots of women in my family still have their long hair. Many others chose to cut it. Some in an act of defiance and others because they were just tired of it. There's also so many racial issues tied up in hair alone. Our African ancestry is seemingly embedded in our hair. Fair hair and soft, less textured hair is preferred over curlier dark hair. It's a preference steeped in our complicated colonial history and heavy burden we all carry. My hair is in between. I cut mine shorter and shorter as I got older and now have tightly cropped hair like my mom. I never thought I would do it. I remember having to straighten my hair with an iron and "wear it long" for family coming to the mainland from Puerto Rico. It was my cape. My aunts loved how long and soft it was and yet they probably knew how much work it took to get it that way. I wanted this piece to be voluminous and have tons of differently textured hair. I sat with it for a while before I got the shapes I wanted. I really like how far it's come. I'm not sure about the hanging loop on the side or the long braids yet. I'm tempted to do another. I also coated the hair in hair dye and let it drip on the bust to bring a more cohesive layer to it all.
I have a few more objects in the works that aren't busts. I'm going to write about those another day.
Goodbye for now!
This blog functions as a space for me to articulate what goes into making my artwork.