Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Storytelling through art

Cuentos de fantasmas literally means “ghost stories” in the Latino tradition, and also refers to a kind of Mexican American pulp fiction combining folktales, legend and popular culture. I share with you the cuentos as they were told to me of El Cucui (Bogeyman), El Diablo (devil), and La Lechusa, (owl woman).

In the Southwest El Cucui has been helping mothers keep children in bed and out of trouble for decades. A description is very hard to come by because he keeps to the darkness and the shadows and those who have encountered him cannot take a good look from under the covers.
At any rate he’s not a nice guy, unlike El Diablo. This smooth talking, papi chulo is always well dressed and can dance the night away with the single women who have chosen to go out alone against her families’ wishes. Once on the dance floor she takes a look at his fast moving feet and discovers that her partner has hooves. He vanishes without even asking for her number. She may faint or awaken in the morning with a scorched handprint on her shoulder, and certainly no call from him, all painful reminders to “keep single women home”.

At night in Texas, especially under a full moon, things start moving, and La Lechusa soars silently over the treetops looking for her prey. Sometimes she is half woman, half owl, other times she transforms into the owl at sunset. Some say she is the spirit of a woman betrayed, annoyed by a faithless husband or a widower who has remarried. Men who stay out late drinking may encounter her and those cheating may be visited. This creature of the night can only be called off if you know the remedy. Tie a rope with seven knots in it and say a prayer each time, if you make a mistake in the process, the result is anyone’s guess and listen for the scratching on rooftops.

I have been warned as most children of the Southwest have been so I added a little protection to this work, wax from prayer candles, safety pins keep things in, shredded areas where the spirits have surfaced have been stitched shut, and a carefully tied rope with seven knots holding seven prayers…just in case.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sometimes art makes people uncomfortable

This year the Arkansas Arts Center will be celebrating the 50th year of the Annual Delta Exhibition. This is a regional juried exhibition of all media. The Art Center is organizing a show of as many of the pat 50 winners scheduled for Dec - Jan 2008. As a past winner I am excited to have an opportunity to share once again the story of the missing and murdered women and girls.

When I won this exhibit main stream media did not show pictures of the work as they have for other winners. There was no mention of my name, only the second and third winners with photos. I can only imagine what got in thier way... Was it the fact that it was fabric and not really art? Maybe it was fabric and thats supposed to be soft. One of the many reasons I use textiles is to take a soft approach to tough subjects, the bright colors and images draw in the viewer and then they get hit with the message.

Why was it that only the Latino newspapers covered the fact that a Latina won a juried regional art show?(they even used pictures) Was it because of the topic? Bringing attention to the fact that mostly poor Mexican women and girls have been murdered and missing for years and no one seems to care. Most of them were working in the U.S. owned maquiladoras, factories in poor border towns, when they were abducted.

Or was it the traditional images that my people use to honor and remember the dead that bothered them? Skeletons are symbols that the soul is eternal and the final death takes place when there is no one left to remember you.

What ever thier reason it will be back on exhibit. And for me with or without media coverage once again I will be honored to be able to show the work, stand beside it at the opening, and tell the stories.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coalition Building

Intense week in DC attending the National Coalition Building Leadership Institute. Lots of work and good times lead to great inspiration! Already have some sketches and ideas floating in my head, can't wait to get back to the studio.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

machine drawing

I dusted off the machine and worked on some drawing. I havent had much time for my art. Things are busy this time of year for me, doing lots of cross cultural workshops around the state and going to VA in a week. I just had to touch some fabric and play a bit. Mas later.