In the last few weeks I had opportunity to connect with several individuals (unrelated) working on oral history projects. The focus: art and culture – on being an artist and on being Mexican-American.
I enjoy one meeting in particular because the focus is on Arizona artists and the particular discussion includes labels like Chicana/o, Latina/o, Mexican-American and Hispanic. Robert (who is creating the project) and I talk about why we might take on or resist such labels – or connect with some and not others.
I’ve had intelligent and worthwhile conversation about culture and labels in the last few years, with a number of people. While willing to discuss, I may or may not always know where I stand. To add to things, I recently contacted a museum in El Paso (my hometown) and noted I was an El Pasoan, and soon I realized – I am not. At least in the eyes of someone else – I am an Arizonan though I come from Texas.
I was born in El Paso, Texas and attended the University of Texas. I moved to New Mexico where I received an MFA. My husband and I came to Arizona so he could continue his education. We never imagined 20 years later, we’d still be here.
I am female and I am artist – lucky for me, those things are clear if not always simple. I am … I am … I am.
Sometimes I prefer to just stop at the I am.
I believe at our very core we are creativity in motion. And we are like that bucket of water that is for a short time, separated from the ocean. The question always becomes – are you the bucket of water or are you the ocean it came from? As artists, there are moments we are aware of that vast ocean.
In terms of education and recording history, the discussion and the connections are valuable – they serve a broader purpose for what was, what is, and what may be. I appreciate the ebb and flow. That’s life, things change. Am I American? Latina? Chicana? Mexican-American? Hispanic? We label and separate, only to come back with a clearer vision of who we are.
I think about this often. I appreciate the discussion. I look forward to giving you more info as the project unfolds.
A few years ago I worked on a series called Another Mental Concoction that posed the questions :
Who am I? What am I? What is this world and what is my relationship to it?
I come back to this over and over. It serves a purpose.
Click on the image to see the work.