work carries me, and my culture
Like the Rio Grande.
Bordering my birthplace, El Paso,
It runs and gives passage to a boundless assortment of stories
From both riverbanks in two languages.
Word and image meet, sweetly, wickedly, subversively,
Joining and locking the sensual or awkward.
Material and concept gush meaningful memories with new observations.
Deceptively simple tales spill into larger issues.
Knowing we belong to a tiny world pool
That magnifies petty differences,
It traces my own race and culture into the gulf streams and out the big ocean.
It echoes the songs of the women in my family,
Those strong currents of my existence.
Who wrote satirical family poems in eloquent Español.
Ellas, who made magic; with Salsas
On the dance floor, or en la cosina,
And drew silver ribbons on colored papel.
Ellas, who gurgled, book readings too fast,
And accounted the savings to be better spent.
It speaks of the men, Ellos,
Who pulled guard three months straight
Near frozen wide rivers or in the coldest tundras of WW II.
Who took me to ball games, played Spike Jones records,
And sang with the comic, Tin Tan.
Ellos, who created persona, cartoons,
Yet, seldom handled the money.
It races at a treacherous society and upholds womens roles.
Contemplatively gathers questions,
Laughs in politically incorrect carcajadas.
Or meets situations straight, cara a cara-jadas!
It roars what if, y por que, kicking rapidly.
Meandering through a variety of challenging forms,
And sometimes satisfies my curiosity.
is a 20 x 16 cibachrome photograph using a 4 x 5 camera.
This is the first of four photos from an on-going series, The Referentes,
that alludes to references, such as pronouns or that stands for something.
I call this my token piece produced to comply with the dialogue
of Multiculturalism, an ism invented by the art world to open
up the representation of artists outside the white art world and to obtain
grant monies for individual and institutional programs. It is my statement
to declare my awareness of the system in operation knowing well that after
the trend would run its course the focus might once again turn to the old
The original dialogue places Hispanics in the category of the other
or the exotic. Both, white and non-white curated projects, emphasized the
primal or religious or domestic ritualistic, thus, origins became recurring
theme underscoring the art dialogue. And if the works did not fit into that
category they were made to do so, by both sides of the curatorial fence. In
most cases the issues of a more intellectually conceptual nature were often
bypassed, lightly skimmed or totally ignored. Thus, often a poor analysis
went repeated and standardized. Very few Latino artists were recognized as
part of the bigger art dialogue. And lots of previously hidden other
ties were suddenly endorsed and everybody recognized their grandmothers and
Ella is a photograph, and also, a part of a larger wood cabinet construction
or reliquary. As a photograph it uses a seductive red, yet innocent
little girls garment as surrogate for constructed societal roles, along
with tokens of pain and endearment. As part of the cabinet it is paired with
a photograph of a little boys garment and real tokens similar to those
photographed. A romantic narrative about male and female psychological roles
is also an element. Both reproductions are the doors to this construction.
The form represents the case into which the art and society has attempted
to place the Hispanic or Latino. The piece has been exhibited widely and included
in the 1991 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of Art. As a wall cabinet, it was
made in an unfinished edition of seven, the first one bought by the Lannan
Foundation, the second by the Tyler Museum of Art, the third by the Barrett
Collection of Dallas and now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. As a photograph
it has been in numerous exhibitions and is in private and public collections.
the installation, was first conceived and produced simultaneously with another
similarly sized installation and is a departure from the early book works
and succeeding wall cabinets. The narrative style continues and the form expands
the notion of the lie. The previous bodies of works were encased or constructed
lies. The installations magnified them. They also paved the way
to the environmental installations and public art that followed.
Tolido is a mixed media installation using wood, acrylic airbrush painting,
white sand, and neon light. The painting is a copy of El Grecos Toledo
with a story about value. The tale is about buried treasure and is set in
my grandmothers backyard. Language comes into real play using the Spanglish
word tolido as derived from the word toilet. El Pasos backyard is White
Sands Missile range.
the silkscreen, is a return to the print form. Since the late 70s I vacillate
between a lithographic and silkscreen effect. It is the print version of the
installation and done much later.