Here I am with my piece at Sunshine Art + Design's Self Made Exhibition! The opening was this Friday so I took a night off and hung out at the gallery with my bf (whom also had a piece in the show!). It's a really lovely show with some thought-provoking and well executed work. Here's a fun shot of the gallery! That's me, my partner and our friends in the back. It was a great night and I was glad to see another piece from the Lazos de Sangre series hanging formally.
Saturday it was back to business. I had made a ton of progress Thursday evening and Friday morning on my Vejigante. Below are some progress shots. Saturday morning my partner helped me cast my legs in a squatting position for the Atabeira piece. I'm still struggling with whether or not I want to have the figure standing or squatting. I've settled on the Viejagante as a standing piece but I'm still not sure how I feel about the Atabeira sculpture. I'm going to let that one sit for a bit while I work on some other things. Maybe it just needs to be a bust for now.
On casting my legs: I decided that the most economical approach to assembling these sculptures might be to make them out of paper. I spoke to Rory, the sculpture volunteer, and he agreed with me. I haven't talked to Line about this decision yet. I think it will not only help with cost but also will preserve some of the organic textures I liked so much in the 2D pieces. I also intend on stitching my pieces together. I have my molds done for the legs (progress shots below!) but now I need to learn how to make paper. I've used papier mache techniques before but never with paper pulp. I'm excited about the possibilities though!
All in all I have several processes going so far. I got more random materials from dollar stores. I'm really looking at Pepon Osorio, Miguel Luciano and ADAL (Adal Maldonado)'s work right now. I like referencing my past and my memories while also digging into cultural history, a common cultural past in materials and the like. In using things like a bata or a vejigante mask, chancletas or plastic wrapping, I hope to hit on memories that many Latinxs and especially Puerto Rican's and Dominican's like myself have. We all have that one family member who wrapped every piece of furniture in plastic. The doña that wore noisy chancletas (or the shared fear of getting a good spanking with one). Rather than seeing these as negative stereotypes, I want to appropriate them as a shared memory; something all spanish-speaking and non-spanish speaking hispanic people have experienced in their lifetime. I think a lot of these material objects (the plastic, the fruit magnets, the chanclas with little bows on them, the bata, the platano etc.) are vested with memory and have become a sort of cultural icon. A lot of them, as Pepon Osorio's work points out, are products made cheaply and sold in dollar stores and yet they're gaudy and meant to embody the appearance of riches.
I'm embracing that there is a bit of humor in my work (think Viejagante) and I've been thinking about the resilience of the inhabitants of the Greater and Lesser Antilles. I think most Latinx's recognize the humor in many of these objects but there's also a kind of defiance to them. I read up on Santeria and Afro-Cuban/Afro-Caribbean religions this weekend. There's no getting around the fact that Santeria comes from a need to have hope in the midst of misery. Of the 12 Orishas (gods/goddesses) devotees worship, the most highly revered are tricksters. Considering this mythology along-side the politics of African slaves in places like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, there is a need to sort of create answers for why they as a people are treated so unfairly. Often religion is most important during times of extreme duress. Humans across cultures have a tendency to seek answers in religion, magic or spiritual mythologies when we can't directly explain things. Santeria itself has become a mish-mash of African mythology, Spanish Catholic traditions and Taino mythology. Many of the Orisha's "crossdress" as saints and many share characteristics of Taino cemi. I'm fascinated by the similarities between these dieties and catholic saints. Slaves and indigenous people constantly had to figure out innovative ways to maintain their mythologies in the face of often brutal colonialism. As European and Spanish colonized Africa, South America and the Carribean, they also indoctrinated some form of Christianity/Catholicism. Often, they ridiculed the original inhabitants "child-like" worship of dieties and forced them to replace their mythology with one more "sophisticated." Rather than completely obliging, religions like Santeria were born. They maintained the very core of their belief system but disguised their Orishas with saints. Now the practice is kind of a bastardized version of what it's origin might have been. That isn't to say that it is any less significant or less important, but it has evolved according to a need to survive. I'm still just scratching the surface of a lot of this history so I'll update as I learn more.
So this week's agenda is to get my regular work done at Franklin and Marshall, Gather more materials for my newest idea (will elaborate on it next post!) and brace myself for the first critique with the advanced class at Millersville. It's also my last week before starting classes with Drexel!
Here's to more madness!
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This blog functions as a space for me to articulate what goes into making my artwork.