The art of Aydee López Martínez reflects a deeply personal introspection on the events of her life. Born in Mexico but raised primarily in Los Angeles, she originally thought of herself as Mexican until she revisited family members in her homeland. It was then that the duality of her Chicana identity was impressed on her in purely personal terms: I remember being embarrassed when someone pointed out my accent in English and angry when people from my native Mexico made fun of my broken Spanish. This in-between status, combined with her strict upbringing in the midst of a much more liberal U.S. culture, produced a feeling of oppression from which the young López Martínez retreated into a private world by drawing. As she grew her talent became evident, but as she continued to draw pictures of the beautiful women she had seen in U.S. popular culture, she grew ever more frustrated: In reality I looked nothing like those women I drew. López Martínez credits her family with saving her from self-destructive depression in her midteens and with helping her to formulate a new and more positive image that was soon reflected in her art. In time, far from denying or being embarrassed by her Chicana identity, she began to take great pride in it and to paint and sculpt images that reflected that pride. Pursuing the serious study of art, she received an A.A. degree from Glendale Community College in Glendale, California in 1992 and a B.F.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1999. By that time she had already begun to exhibit her work.
Sadness, Madness, Anger, Hate, provides a gamut of visages and their underlying emotions. Evocative of the colorful masks of Mexican folk art and the masks of other cultures (there is a totemic and decorative element of the South Seas in these visages), the series seems to communicate a kind of emotionally utilitarian quality. Here is a repertoire of faces to wear. In both this work and Afraid of What is Out There, the tension between vulnerability and concealment and between unprotected individualism and the armaments of culture (as evoked especially by the designs of the masks and of the box in the latter work) are prominent thematic elements.
Madness, Anger, Hate
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