When family tales are passed from generation to generation with no single point of origin, when history fails to document years of pain and struggle, when personal identity becomes too complex to describe in a single sitting, when memory and imagination mingle in the land of dreams, this is where art comes in very handy.
For young Latina artists, art is an invaluable tool to archive the past, understand the present and activate change in the future. Yet, as with many underrepresented populations, Latina artists and the work they produce are often silenced and overlooked. An exhibition entitled "Y, Qué? (And What!)" is here to change that.
Composed entirely of Latin artists under the age of 35, "Y, Qué?" presents a diverse array of multimedia artworks through which to navigate the past, archive the intangible, occupy multiple spaces and personas and unabashedly declare one's existence. Exploring themes of race, class, gender, sexuality and cultural identity, the selected emerging artists don't just tell us their stories, they show us.
"Y, Qué?" is the 19th edition of the "Young Latino Artists Exhibition," a highly anticipated exhibition series at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas. Guest curated by Más Rudas Chicana Collective, this year's stunning exhibition showcases the bold future of female artists and the unrelenting power of art to make sense of the world around us. Behold, 13 young Latina artists changing the landscape of contemporary art.
Anciso a Chicana–Tejana artist and educator born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Her work "Pinches Rinches" series examines the lost history of Tejanos along the Texas–Mexican Border, many of whom were lynched and killed by Texas Rangers taking the law into their own hands. Her work explores the rich memories of these traumatizing events, many of which history has forgotten.
Arthur explores ideas of embodiment in her work, navigating the human form's futility, impermanence and ethereality. Her chaotic sculptures, blurring boundaries between interior and exterior, require viewers to move around them to fully digest them. According to the gallery, her fantastical piece "El Juego Del Tra Tra" is "about life and its incapacity to exist without the consequence or existent of death and decay."
Chacon channels the pop-like style of 1940s and 1950s illustrators, creating massive images that hit you as instantaneously as an advertisement. Her piece above comments on women's role in contemporary culture as well as the constant human desire to obtain and objectify natural elements.
The placard next to Herrera's piece wonderfully specifies how the artist, a "sexual deviant born and raised in the swamp of Houston," "can be found in her cave weaving madness into silk." Her artwork explores monsters, memory and mythology using fabric, plastic, screenprints and more. Her piece on view incorporates monstrous forms from cautionary Texas folktales, inviting viewers into her own monstrous subconscious.
Gonzalez investigates marginalized identities through her work, in this case, using the language of feminized animal-based food products and beauty pageants. The piece explores the relationship between the female human and non-humanbetween the inequalities of the female human and the female nonhuman, touching on aspects of fashion, advertising and gender performance.
Santana's work responds to the fading memory of Mexican narrative ballads, called corridos. Inspired by Magical Realism, she accompanies corridos with fictitious portraits of their subjects, most of which were never photographed. In her work, "Santana plays the role of artist, archivist and a corridista ," activating lost histories, living memories and the imaginative space in between.
Martinez is a Mexican American Artist and Computer Science Instructor whose work was influenced by the hardships and discrimination faced growing up with immigrant parents. based on gender and race. In her conceptual black-and-white photographs, Martinez explores the suffering and objectification of women.
Torralba is "politically–grounded and spiritually–driven from a queer, feminist, and (un)documented immigrant perspective." Her piece above, inspired by Mexican altares and Rasquache aesthetic, addresses the sexual violence undocumented women face on their journey to cross the border, exploring the understanding of home as a safe space.
Road is a Cuban-American artist whose graphic memoir "Spit and Passion" addresses coming out while maintaining her Cuban roots, alongside her budding obsession with the band Green Day. "Spit and Passion" addresses the years Road spent in the closet, due to the fact that, according to her, "salvaging her Cuban heritage was just as vital as owning her queer identity."
McDonald, an artist of Panamanian descent, explores the relationship between pop culture and international war in "Songs of Surrender ’89," a disk set and video performance. In 1989, in an effort to make Panamanian leader, general, and dictator Manuel Noriega surrender, the U.S. military played loud pop-rock music day and night. McDonald covers the 95 songs used, in a salsa-heay style reminiscent of her Panamanian youth.
Flores' work addresses dreams, supernatural visions and her roots growing up in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. Creating assemblages and collage from found and recycled materials, Flores uses her family's tradition of storytelling to weave narratives of personal identity and life along the Mexico-Texas border.
Made up of Lisa and Janelle Iglesias, the Hermanas Iglesias collaborated with their mother to knit "Nude Suits," reminiscent of her upbringing on a Norway farm. The knit body suits, which contain scars, beauty marks and tattoos belonging to the sisters, were then photographed and documented at various landscapes.
BONUS: Hermanas Iglesias
The sisters also installed an awesome piñata titled "Nothing Last Forever," a sugary jab at Damien Hirst's iconic diamond skull "For The Love Of God." Footage from the striking ceremony is on view alongside the skull's sparkly remains and insides. Who hasn't wanted to bash open a Hirst skull before? Also, free candy!
13. Awilda Rodriguez Lora
Lora is a queer performance artist who views her work as a form of therapy, constantly challenging her gender and sexuality. Using digital technology as a tool to recover memory, Lora explores autobiographical details while making the private public.
"Young Latina Artists 19: Y, Qué?" runs until September 7, 2014 at Mexic-Arte in Austin, Texas.