Culture

8 Texan Artists Take On Identity And Politics In New Exhibit

Instagram/@jvillalobos29

In Trump’s America, activist art is on the rise. Artists have a wide range of emotions — from frustration to hope — that they want to express through their medium of choice.

Mexic-Arte Museum, an art institution located in Austin, Texas, has a long history of presenting emerging Latino artists to the public, and this summer season they have a lot of topics they’re exploring.

“Young Latino Artists 22: ¡Ahora!,” guest curated by Alana Coates, marks the 22nd installment of the emerging Latinx artist exhibition series at Mexic-Arte Museum — and this show gets political.

This is their curatorial statement: “In an era of socio-political upheaval in the United States -– from U.S.-Mexico border relations, to widespread economic inequalities, increased racial tensions, and subsequent hate on the rise across the country — the selected artists navigate matters of gender restrictions, immigration politics, cultural heritage, and privilege. Their artworks confront viewers with prominent issues of the contemporary Latinx experience in the United States.”

“Young Latino Artists 22: ¡Ahora!” features the work of eight Texan artists.

CREDIT: Instagram/@danielacmadrigal

The featured artists include Nansi Guevara (Laredo, Texas), Daniela Cavazos Madrigal (Laredo, Texas), Mark Anthony Martinez (San Antonio, Texas), Michael Martinez (San Antonio, Texas), Paloma Mayorga (Austin, Texas), Ashley Mireles (San Antonio, Texas), Andrei Rentería (Chihuahua City, Mexico / Presidio, Texas), and José Villalobos (El Paso, Texas).

In response to the politically-heavy theme, Coates told The San Antonio Current that it’s a topic that isn’t easy to escape, especially for these artists. “The Trump administration has forced itself into the national discourse” and added that the artists are “negotiating with the current climate.”

In an interview with mitú, the artists featured in this show discussed their artwork, their mental process in developing it, and how it has affected them and their family.

José Villalobos challenges the ideas of gender roles from conservative communities along the border.

CREDIT: Jose Villalobos. Sin La ‘S’, 2017. Mixed media installation.

Villalobos has several pieces in this show, including an installation featuring several sombreros. He tells mitú that before he created this installation he had to consider the space and the formulated an idea.

“Eventually, after thinking about these hats that I would see [on] my uncles I thought that by suspending these hats in the manner that I did would in some way or another imitate a person, the effect I got was rather ghostly as well,” Villalobos said. “The reason I chose those hats… it was because it is something I grew up seeing. These ‘men’ would be walking in their macho way and their hat was a symbol of power.”


Villalobos said that his family has a “hard time understanding art,” including “conceptual and contemporary art.” He has tried explaining how he associates himself and the concept to the objects.

“I don’t think some of my family is quite supportive of the work I do because it deals with the issues of being gay and that is something they are not 100% supportive about,” Villalobos said. “My family’s overall sentiment is ‘mas-o-menos’ for lack of a better term.”

Mark Anthony Martinez looks at representations of “whiteness” and how they are interconnected with systems of domination and privilege.

CREDIT: Mark Anthony Martinez

Martinez tells mitú that the phrase “No New White Friends” is a take off Drake’s song “No New Friends.”

“I’m using it precisely as a POC who’s had ‘those’ long debates [usually on social media] with clueless white, and sometimes brown, folks who claim to ‘get it’ yet, make apologies for oppressive structures,” Martinez said. “In this context, the work ‘No New White Friends’ is a motto of self-preservation against the malaise of toxic comment threads that inevitably crop up whenever racial inequities are brought up or shared.”

Daniela Cavazos Madrigal’s work reflects her interest in sociocultural issues along the U.S.- Mexico border from the perspective of a woman and mother.

CREDIT: Daniela Madrigal “Sopita De Letras, 2017”

Cavazos tells mitú that she was originally intending to do something completely different for this show, which would have looked something like funeral wreaths, however, when she began working on them, her grandmother passed away.

“So my work evolved into an homage of the life of my grandmother,” Cavazos said. “I wanted to pay tribute to her life as a homemaker, as a woman, who despite many injustices in her life, worked hard and never gave up hope. She never reached her American dream, but she did live out her own dream, a life of contentment.”

“My work is composed mainly of installations, using materials that belonged to my grandmother, as well as found materials and repurposed clothing sourced from the ‘pacas’ (warehouses that sell clothing by the pound). My pieces are embroidered and spell out ‘dichos’ or sayings that my grandmother would often use, most of them humorous, but very direct. As much as this work helped me deal with the loss, I wanted my work to evoke a sense of collective healing in the midst of our current time.”

Photographer and painter Paloma Mayorga tells mitú her work deals with themes of healing.

CREDIT: Paloma Mayorga. Poderosa II (Powerful), 2016.

Some of her photographs are actually created with a scanner. “The ways in which I hold my body, or other objects meant to symbolize my body, against the glass of the scanner are informed by my emotions and desire for healing,” she says.

Mayorga said that the intention behind her work is to reconnect with her roots, culturally, spiritually, and physically.

“Growing up in the U.S. as the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, issues and questions of identity have always intrigued me and are now at the forefront of my work.” Mayorga tells mitú. “I’m particularly interested in dismantling gender-specific roles imposed on us by others, as well as dissecting the rhetoric used to talk about women and our bodies. I hope to contribute to the conversations people have regarding that rhetoric.”

Michael Martinez is a multidisciplinary conceptual artist whose work confronts identity from the vantage of a Gay person of color.

CREDIT: Michael Martinez

Martinez, who has four pieces featured within this year’s YLA exhibition, titled the above-pictured installation “Courageous.”

Martinez tells mitú that this artwork deconstructs the metaphorical “closet” and is a hand-made, 30-foot long Pride flag, which arcs downward from the ceiling of the Mexic-Arte Museum, and culminates in the explosive impact through a wooden closet door, whose splinters are suspended in the air via a gold thread.

The colors in this piece are also referencing the recently unveiled Philadelphia Pride Flag of 2017, which includes black and brown stripes, “in honor of the legacy and endurance of Black and Brown People within the LGBTQ community.”

“I didn’t start examining the salience of gender within my identity-based art practice until I ‘came out’ to my family at the end of 2014,” Martinez tells mitú. “All this is very new to me. The gender-neutral framework of Latinx is very appealing to me, because it makes space for all those Black and Brown People who never had a platform within the binary models of Chican@ or Latina/o. I can only hope that my art practice blossoms in a similar fashion—making space for my LGBTQIA fellows so that they might not feel forgotten or alone.”

Nansi Guevara’s work uses her rascuache sensibilities to create de-colonial public artwork.

CREDIT: Nansi Guevara

Guevara said she was working on her pieces while protesting SB-4 with local activists in Brownsville and in the state capital.

“After working and volunteering in activist circles lead by women and queer folks in the Rio Grande Valley, seeing the fire and passion and the tireless work of these activists, but also experiencing these circles as sources of healing, mutual support, and solidarity helped me understand that no injustice is met without community resistance and power,” Guevara tells mitú.

“I started to create these fabric murals that are sort of a continuation of the political posters I was doing previously — but building them with fabric material you would normally find in a typical home on the border — as a way to represent gente fighting from their households through sustaining their families and working for a dignified life.”

CREDIT: Andrei Renteria

“These drawings have been altered to look like gigantic individual sheets of notebook paper ripped apart at the seams,” Renteria tells mitú. “Each drawing is done at different levels of rendition and is accompanied by text and/or notes that entail, in an investigative in a journalistic manner, the tragic end to that particular person’s life.”

“As a native of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico where the number of forced disappearances has risen over the years, I am trying to understand the motives or the backstory to the succession of such events,” Renteria said. “My initial intentions for the series was to re-create the step by step process of a forced disappearance, by putting myself or the viewer into the role of the perpetrator.”

The exhibit will be open until Aug. 27.

READ: This Young Latino Creates Art Inspired By His Immigrant Parents

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A Large Mural of Frida Kahlo in Traditional Mexican Dress Has Just Been Unveiled and She’s Never Looked More Electric

Culture

A Large Mural of Frida Kahlo in Traditional Mexican Dress Has Just Been Unveiled and She’s Never Looked More Electric

@findac / Intagram

Frida Kahlo is the most recognizable Mexican painter of the past century. That bold brow, traditional Mexican garb and piercing stare are undeniably Frida in a way that makes her completely unique among other artists. She’s also one of the most widely portrayed Mexican figures of all time. Her image adorns everything from tee-shirts and jewelry to murals and makeup. Her image is so recognizable that flower crowns, red lipstick, and ungroomed eyebrows will forever have an association with the artist.

To add to the Frida imagery in our world, a new mural featuring the famous artista has just been unveiled in Mexico and she has never looked better.

Painted by Irish artist Fin DAC, the mural portrays Frida Kahlo in bold primary colors and traditional Mexican dress.

Twitter / @la_linea

The artwork is named “Magdalena” and is located in Guadalajara — the capital of Jalisco. In the mural, Frida is represented with a full-body image, hands placed together in front of her as if in prayer. Vibrant flowers and butterflies adorn her like a crown in true Frida fashion.

She wears a huipil (a multicolored blouse traditionally found in southern Mexico), a pink shawl and a long blue skirt accentuated with various-sized skulls. The ten-story mural also depicts the artist with a blue mask across her eyes. This is artist Fin DAC’s signature that he adds to all of his pieces and works to enhance the dark stare that Frida gives viewers.

The artist responsible for this mural has lots of experience creating urban art in Latin America.

Twitter / @BrasilEFE

Between 2012 and 2017, Fin DAC visited Latin America several times. He created six murals total in Colombia and Brazil during that time. This is his first time creating art in Mexico. The artistic is known for his style — called “Urban Aesthetics” —  and has made art on the streets of five different continents. His images also include women dressed in the native costume of their countries and are finished with his signature mask.

The artist explained the reasoning for his attention to national traditions to Mexanist. He said:

“No matter the culture and nationality for me, I am more interested in the type of clothing typical of each place, each country and each place has something to offer and show in this sense.”

For Fin DAC, the choice to depict Frida on this wall was an easy one. The artist explained that her own artwork always sought to exalt the women it depicted — much like his own. Frida’s own famous way of dressing always incorporated traditional Mexican costuming too so the decision to paint the famous Mexican for this piece was “almost obvious” to the painter.

The artist was invited to create this mural as part of celebrations for the Despertares Impulsa dance festival.

Instagram / @findac

Created by famous Mexican dancer, Isaac Hernández, the Despertares Impulsa dance festival began as a way to gather and stimulate the creative industry in Mexico. With the backing of the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts, the event offers performances, workshops, lectures, master classes and meet and greets. The festival also offers opportunities for free auditions to different international dance companies.

Fin DAC was invited to create this piece by the director of Despertares Impulsa. The image was painted on a wall facing Chapultepec Avenue — a busy street that receives lots of traffic in the urban area. Fin DAC choose this location purposefully for this reason.

“When you see a spectacular advertising pole,” he said, “You see an image trying to sell you something you don’t need, but it makes you feel like you want it. (On the other hand) when you see a piece of art on the street it brings you a moment of happiness and peace, nothing from the advertising you see will make you happy, but art can definitely do it.

The mural was officially unveiled on July 15th, 2019 as part of the festival’s celebrations.

Twitter / @findac

The unveiling comes at a time of year significant to Frida fans. July 6th was the 112th anniversary of the artist’s birth. The 65th anniversary of her passing also happened this past month on the 13th of July. As such, this beautiful mural is an appropriate gift to honor the late Mexican artist.

This Vogue Exhibit — Featuring A Gorgeous Portrait Of Yalitza Aparicio — Is Now Open In Mexico City

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This Vogue Exhibit — Featuring A Gorgeous Portrait Of Yalitza Aparicio — Is Now Open In Mexico City

Any designer will tell you that art and fashion often go hand-in-hand. Through the ages, art has reflected so much about society and history solely through the clothing and architecture depicted by oils and pastels. From the runways of Paris and Milan to the pages of VOGUE, the composition, color, and forms of the latest fashions often show us that they are equivalent to the most iconic works of art created by the most masterful fine artists.

Now, Vogue is yet again showing us the relationship between art and fashion with its brand new “Vogue Like a Painting” exhibit.

Twitter / @mamiyolis

The exhibition is being shown at Mexico City’s historic Franz Mayer Museum from now until September 15, 2019. The sample of 65 images is a representation of the greatest photographs to manifest in VOGUE during its past 20 years as a publication.  The magazine’s archives were thoroughly examined to find the most impactful, most artistically composed and most striking pictures to be taken by photographers during their time at VOGUE.

Over the last two decades, some of the most iconic photographers ever have collaborated with the publication. Annie Leibovitz, Paolo Roversi, Tim Walker, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Steven Klein, Sheila Metzner, Cecil Beaton, and Edward Steichen are some of the many big name artists who have captured moments for VOGUE. They have contributed easily some of the most recognizable images that the magazine has printed and their work will be available to view at the “Vogue Like a Painting” event.

Karla Martinez de Salas, editorial director of Vogue Mexico and Latin America, had this to say about the art exhibition:

“I have always believed in the power of images, in that inexplicable magic of telling stories without words that allow us to inspire and make us dream. From a painting signed by Goya, to an image photographed by Tim Walker or Paolo Roversi, it is these beautiful visual records of fashion and culture that are truly treasured in our memory and heart.”

What all of these images have in common are distinct characteristics that are traditionally attributed to paintings and other works of fine art.

Twitter / @museofranzmayer

Their narratives, details and subject matter are approached the same way a master would address a canvas. At first glance, some of these pictures don’t even look like photographs. The stylistic techniques used to capture the subject are implemented as authentically as possible — staying true to the artistic elements artists are trained in.

The compositions also invoke comparisons to different artists and art periods. Split into genres like portraiture and landscapes, artistic movements like Renaissance painting, Rococo art, and even Pre-Raphaelite works are mirrored by these photos. The images in “Vogues Like a Painting” evoke masters such as Magritte, Degas, Dalí, Botticelli and Zurbarán. Their use of light, space, color and figure drawing are mimicked by the pictures on display — making these pieces completely at home in the museum.

Of these breath-taking pictures, a gorgeous portrait of Yalitza Aparicio can also be viewed.

Twitter / @VogueMexico

This image of Yalitza Aparicio comes from a spread by the photographers Santiago & Mauricio and was published back in January 2019. The actress was the first Indigenous woman to appear on the cover of VOGUE. Displayed in the “Vogue Like a Painter” exhibit, the portrait draws comparisons to Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” The steady stare, the use of light and dark and the positioning of her body is reminiscent of the mysterious woman in the Italian master’s piece. We can even see the influence of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits reflected in the photograph of the “Roma” star.

Debbie Smith, the curator of the “Vogue Like a Picture” exhibit spoke with VOGUE MEXICO about the inclusion of Aparicio’s portrait and how historic the actress’ fashion shoot was for the magazine, fashion and art.

“I was so shocked by the cover of Yalitza, it ‘s one of the most important things that Vogue has done in recent decades … It was impeccable. I have the file saved in my mind.”

As if these beautiful pictures weren’t enough, the exhibition also includes two dresses by Alexander McQueen — one of them never before displayed — as well as another three gowns by Comme des Garçons, Christian Lacroix and Nina Ricci. These pieces were borrowed especially for the “Vogue Like a Painting” exhibit. If you can get to Mexico City for this show, definitely give it a look. It is without a doubt one of the most historic mixtures of art and fashion to be seen today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twdG7xRE2TY

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