The past few months have been full! Updates:
Starting Tuesday I'll have a more flexible schedule and I'm looking forward to diving deeper into a new portrait series I started. I'll talk a bit about them below:
This is Self Portrait as Atabeira. As you know if you've been following my work, I'm obsessed with Atabeira and Taino mythology. I'm still learning a lot and plan to read even more. I had been thinking about goddesses a lot after an interaction with Line Bruntse (former mentor during the EAR program). I had been avoiding saying it out loud and she sort of took the words out of my mouth when she said that my work was about goddesses and self-determination. I decided to start imagining myself as various goddesses as a way of reclaiming my history and identity. I also like the overlap of saints and goddesses and using bold colors. I've been looking at prayer candles a lot and their label designs. I'm interested in how we represent deities and how that informs our spiritual life too. for this painting I wanted to play with texture and crowns as halos. I also liked the idea of playing with the Latina hoop earring (which I own many of thank you) and blurring the line between my face and the face of Atabeira. A direct likeness used to be a sign that I made a good painting but lately, I've taken to trying to be fast and loose and mix bright colors. This is the first portrait I did that I'm happy with the final outcome.
I'm really happy with this one. I started playing with the star sequins (mostly because I have a huge bag I'm trying to figure out what to do with) but it just didn't work. The pallete was too much too so I moved on to a more toned down pallete with the finished piece.It's smaller (just under 8x10) and it forced me to pull back a little. I was thinking about symbols that mythlogize Puerto Rico and the flamboyan flowers came to mind. I was also wanting to channel Frida Kahlo's pallete for the skin here. I like her yellowy and ruddy tones a lot and I have a more yellow undertone to my skin. I was taught to mix paint more for pinker tones and I'm still trying to undo that learning. I started to take on and learn how to paint other skintones at the Art Students League of NY and that was really eye-opening in terms of how limiting Lancaster can be. That's for another post though. I'm definitely going to continue this smaller series and play with more ideas of saints, myths, and identity pieces.
Last post I mentioned a little bit about Atabeira (or Atabey). Today I want to explain a little bit more about her significance and a little about what I've learned about Taino myth and culture. Atabeira has many names. this is significant because Taino Indigenous peoples are a group that were prevalent across several islands. Today it is agreed (for the most part) that the Taino's migrated from Venezuela (or in other opinions some part of the very northern border of Latin America). They moved to Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica and the surrounding islands that are now part of these countries. They are a subgroup of the Arawak Indigenous peoples and are sometimes referred to as the Indigenous inhabitants of the Greater Antilles just to cover all ground. The commonalities of these groups despite migration to a wide range of islands lies in their pottery, similar petroglyphs referencing gods and goddesses and documents written by early Spanish colonists. The problem with really identifying these people lies in the fact that in the early 16th century, colonialism began to unravel the Taino fabric fairly quickly leaving behind only traces of their culture often misconstrued by the Spanish settlers. Today, anthropologists, ethnographers, archaeologists and many others are taking these documents often fraught with mistakes to task. For a very long time the general consensus was that the Spanish killed off or "integrated" through forced marriage the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. There is proof, however, that some of the Taino may have lived far longer than previously assumed when they were simply forced to live in hiding. Many early documents regarding Taino myth were written from a perspective that belittle they're worship of Cemi's. Spanish colonists believed that the Taino were child-like and savage, completely dismissing the significance of they're practices. Today, however, we have the sophistication to this significance and understand that perhaps all along the Taino were much more aware of their surroundings than the Spanish.
I will try to be brief here. I'm on a bit of a time crunch this evening but I had a really great two days with the residency. I'm also going to be taking courses through Drexel (online mostly) for a Masters in Arts Administration. I'm feeling the pressure but it's resulting in an intense drive to be more organized and deliberately use my time wisely. Yesterday I met the advanced class. They're a great group of students who range from those that have only taken Sculpture 1 to those that have taken every class MVU has to offer in the arts. They're obviously passionate and rearing to get to work. We'll be welding on Tuesday and talking about the figure tomorrow evening. The Sculpture 1 class is still working on building a vocabulary so it's a bit slow moving to get to know them and see what they're really capable of. Today I sat in on a mini super casual crit with Sculpture 1 and began reading the material I've collected. Below is an image of some of the books I'm working through to help inform my work.
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.*