Tower of Life
Food is a prominent motif in much of my work. It represents culture both in
its culinary value and in its communicative expression. In my work, I explore
these aesthetic values representing culture in motion—its evolution through
juxtaposition. In the sculpture Tower of Life, the corn (maiz) tortilla
ingredient represents the food staple of the Americas, indigenous to Mexican
culture. The flour (harina) tortillas surrounding the structure represent
the American influence on the ancient corn tortilla, originating the flour
alternative preferred in northen Mexico and Texas. The Tower Life Building
(the structure's actual name) represents high culture with its architectural
sophistication and engineering mastery. In fact, when the building was constructed
in the late 1920s, it was the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi.
The juxtaposition of the simple maiz food staple with the urban structure
challenges the hierarchical values and stereotypes in culture. The sculpture
serves as a metaphor for the reconquista, the reconquering, of the cultural
history of Texas, San Antonio in particular because of its rich Mexican heritage.
I'm always trying to merge misguided stereotypes of low or micro culture with
high or macro culture, expressing an expansion through inclusiveness, an impression
that includes everything and everyone—an aesthetic hybrid of cultural evolution
that reverses colonization. This blending is fundamental to the evolution
of all culture—the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated or incompatible visions.
Without this mingling, culture and civilization would become stagnant and
benign without purpose.
Bicultural Table Setting
Table Setting, while symbolic, is not far from the real table settings
for many Americans living in proximity either culturally or geographically
to Mexico. This is the everyday vision and life of "border culture." One side
is the traditional (natural) side and the other the technological (innovative)
side. The Mexican tablecloth design on the right is organic (natural) with
strawberries still on the vine. The wrist of the hand on the same side bears
an old-fashioned wind-up watch with hands. The crafted utensils display attention
to detailed design. In contrast, the American tablecloth pattern on the left
is grid-like and controlled. The wrist watch on that side is digital and computerized
with a television remote control within reach. Upon close inspection, one
may notice the utilitarian nature of the sleek minimalist knife. And finally,
the centered plate represents us, the convergence of everything, the apex
of identity in continuous evolving motion, the vortex. The three rotating
tomatoes halves rotate like quarks positioned in the proton. The tomatoes,
a pre-Columbian food, spin freely from side to side, over a bar-code personage
representing the consumerist identity of American culture.