Hablamos Juntos: Together we Speak
Museo Eduardo Carrillo and Pajaro Valley Arts Young Writers Program, CA
for students at Renaissance High School, Santa Cruz CA
This forward thinking education, exhibition, and publication project is a collaboration between Museo Eduardo Carrillo, Pajaro Valley Arts and the Young Writers Program. The exhibition highlights artwork by contemporary Latin@ artists adding a unique dimension when continuing high school students study the art and work with mentors to write personal narratives to create their own singular, rich voices.
Artists include Jesus Barraza & Melanie Cervantes, Eduardo Carrillo, Yreina D Cervantez, Pablo Cristi, Carlos Francisco Jackson, Juan Fuentes, Daniel Galvez, Lorraine García-Nakata, Judithe Hernández, Xavier Jiramontes, Carmen Leon, Jose Lozano, Hector Mendoza, Amalia Mesa-bains, Victor Ochoa, Cruz Ortiz Zamarron, Viviana Paredes, Edward Ramirez, Frank Rodriguez, Ivan Rubio, Manuel Santana, and Linda Vallejo.
Artwork exhibited: Make ‘Em All Mexican: Little Fourth of July Princess, 2011; Repurposed antique postcard, oil, frame; 11”(h) x 9”
Publication questions posed by Betsy Andersen, Executive Director, Museo Eduardo Carrillo
Betsy: What is the intent of the work? How is your art a way to tell your story?
Linda: My formative years were spent in far flung locations throughout the United States and Europe. During my artistic grounding, I became increasingly immersed in the Chicano/Latino/Mexican-American arts and the indigenous communities – experiences that have informed my cultural perspectives and, by extension, my art practice. It has taken my entire artistic career to fuse an image that defines my multicultural experience of the world and my place in it. Like most of my contemporaries I was taught the finer points of the Western classics, art and architecture, but later found myself living and creating in a milieu where symbols of beauty and culture were manifest in a decidedly alternate circumstance.
B: Your artwork creates a dialogue with the student as they relate to and interact with your work. How could a viewer look more closely at the details of your work? How could he/she be more intimately involved with your artwork?
L: Make ‘Em All Mexican encourages a dialogue about by some of the most difficult questions of our time, “Do race, color, and class define our status in the world?” “Is it possible to be a part of and earnestly contribute to multiple cultures simultaneously?” “Does color and class define our understanding and appreciation of culture?” To some viewers, the images are hyper-political; for others, they are emotional portals to a past remembered and sometimes forgotten; and for another group, they are just down right hilarious.
B: What would you like them to experience and notice? (You might consider hidden clues, seeing something unexpected, connections between facts and feelings, art and life, or how they might be inspired to create their own stories and artworks.
L: Curators share that they look forward to exhibiting Make ‘Em All Mexican because of the conversation it evokes. At times the conversation turns to personal stories of memory, loss and regret. The image of a country’s leadership dressed in delicately hand stitched clothing with dark brown skin brought forth a very personal story of love, sacrifice, and sorrow. Another individual reflected a very personal story of how they were celebrated as the “little princess” of their family born with light hair and skin but how over time as their skin and hair grew darker and darker they could feel the love of their family “ebbing away.”
Conversations have found their way into gay rights, the struggles of feminism, where anyone who has ever felt like an outsider can openly express their need to be considered a member of the whole and be heard for their feelings, thoughts, knowledge, and accomplishments.
B: What (unique) skills have you developed as an artist?
L: I consider the “idea” or “concept” to be the most important and vital skill of an artist. I search for the best idea possible and then match the media to convey the concept clearly with a focus on humor and intent.
B: How do you think art impacts our culture?
L: The response that I have received from the work has been one of great interest because it allows Mexican Americans / Chicanos to consider their place in the larger “world” community, culturally, socially, and politically. I believe that this work expands and advances our ability to begin the conversation to learn how to see ourselves as part of the larger world and world art market.
As funny as it is, Make ‘Em All Mexican appears to be capable of opening doors to a shared reality in a modern world where color still governs possession and power. Make ‘Em All Mexican is only the start to a lengthy process but, change is possible, if we just laugh and work through it together.