I wanted to share a podcast I'm currently listening too because it's relevant to a lot of what I've been thinking and writing about lately. On Latino USA recently, Maria Hinojosa interviewed the lead singer of Hurray for the Riff Raff. I totally love everything she's done on the show and was super excited when I heard that she would be interviewing Alynda Lee Segarra. Alynda is, like me, Puerto Rican, from the Bronx and growing up identified very little with her latino culture. She talks about how unfortunate it was to grow up thinking your too different to fit into your own skin and how she wished that she had learned about the political and rebel legacy of so many Puerto Rican writers and artists she has come across recently. She described it as a "homecoming" experience. Where you think you don't belong, gravitate toward something that looks more like you think you feel, and thereby end up retroactively learning about how much of that feeling is ingrained in your own culture. I encourage everyone to give it a listen.
The whole podcast is about Tumbao. Tumbao is loosely translated to mean the bass and/or swing of a piece of music. Tumbao is a pretty universal term in Latino and Hispanic culture. Celia Cruz has a fantastic reggaeton/merengue song called "La Negra tiene Tumbao" that I super love. Give that a listen NOW!
I'm on break right now and trying to take it easy. I have spent the week pre-holidays working on a new bust and refining some of my other work. I'm addressing issues in the Atabeira piece and thinking about how to incorporate red lace somehow. Below are images of the new bust!
Here I started toying with my fleshy colored wax on a somewhat broken blank. I liked the way it soaked into the grey paper and how the translucent wax revealed some of that charcoal grey.
Here I stitched a gauzy fabric on the crown to get the Mary-veil I've been dying to work with. I like how dingy it looks. I'm also really liking how it's livened up the bust. I'm going to play with stiffening areas or embroidering details. Maybe I'll make it shorter.
So why La Virgen. I have a lot of reasons for wanting to approach this icon. One is the issue of Catholicism and religion in my culture (I'll dive deeper in another post). Growing up I knew half my family was Catholic and the other Pentecostal. I grew up deeply religious but not at all like my cousins did. My grandmother on my fathers side is where I experienced the stereotypical catholic and yoruba religious traditions and iconography. Despite the differences in Catholic and Pentecostal culture as far as saint worship and use of iconography, both share an overwhelming amount of beliefs regarding sexuality. Which in itself has always baffled me. Virginity, sexuality, and women's bodies are the topic of so many sermons it's outrageous. I'm interested in how these religious cross-sections are indebted to women and yet fear them. Mary is rarely spoken of on her own terms and that has always bothered me. When these beliefs mingle with the stereotype of the Latina vixen, it's a recipe for the ultimate paradox. Latina women are notoriously viewed as extremely religious yet unbelievably sexy. The two extremes are both attractive yet terrifying and thus leave Latina women in this exotic limbo. Mary, to me, embodies the paradox. We've managed to tell the conception story in pretty ways and yet there's no avoiding the fact that much of it sounds a lot like rape. In a lot of ways, the story is similar to how various carribean islands and countries in Latin America were forced to give up their traditions through colonization.
This blog functions as a space for me to articulate what goes into making my artwork. As it goes, artists are supposedly notorious for being verbose and confusing writers that often come off as pretentious, pompous asses. That hopefully won't happen here. I intend to be as informal as possible. If you've made it this far I probably don't have to warn you that some of this might be NSFW because nudity is known to literally, and irreversibly, burn corneas.*