“Like [Audre] Lorde, I don’t write to receive pity or an apology for the hurts imposed upon me. I write to speak up, to acknowledge the devastation wrought among us when a human life is omitted in the midst of humanity and treated as less than a treasure amid life in general.” – Zenju Earthlyn Manuel The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender
My work is primarily mixed-media arts combining text/poetry, collage or transferred images, paint, fiber arts, and beadwork, with a use of found and repurposed items. The work explores themes of love, gender, motherhood, spirituality, sexuality, history, borders, culture, privilege and oppression, abuse, freedom and revolution – and how all of these are interconnected. I am inspired by Indigenous peoples, diasporic communities of color, spirituality and textiles from around the world, and being a part of cultural preservation by keeping traditions alive and passing them on to new generations.
Outside of art, but also informing my art, I am deeply invested in intersectional analysis of life. This includes racial justice, LGBTQ issues, disability matters, and reproductive justice. One of my main non-art related focuses is making the use of pregnancy/childbirth/postpartum doula care more accessible and culturally competent for marginalized communities including women of color, lesbian/gay, and transgender/genderqueer families, as well as providing in depth support for survivors with a history of sexual assault/trauma. In the past few years, I have been producing more work around the issues of trauma, particularly sexual assault survival, healing, and self-care. Referencing queer and women of color ancestors in particular, I draw from historical and contemporary visions of revolutionary love and community building.
As an artist, I see myself as a culture critic and bridge. For me, art has an important role and responsibility to be at the forefront of addressing social needs and change. To that end, my reading is quite eclectic and broad. I utilize Tumblr, Hyperallergic, Art21, Al-Jazeera, Telesur, and a wide variety of other media to stay on top of not only art matters but world and community matters. I do not necessarily see a separation between art-related matters and larger cultural issues. I believe that art is and should be informed by those matters, and helps to inform those matters at the same time. I am intrigued by the way social media has changed how stories are produced and reported, and the way that individual people in communities are able to tell their own stories via tweets, poetry, photographs, and more, in real time. My own work is greatly informed by thinking about these issues and seeing how other artists are tackling timely topics. I also enjoy attending art shows and galleries when they are quiet so that I am able to look at the art for as long as I wish, trying to learn something of the techniques used. I am fascinated by documentary films and biographies about a variety of types of artists that allow the artists to speak about their work and also include others talking about how they relate to the artist and the work. I’m deeply interested in self-produced narratives and uncovering of lost histories.
I am a self-taught artist, happy in my “folk” or “primitive” state as I feel that my work is infused with my cultures and soul. I most appreciate the work of other folk and self-taught artists who are willing to experiment with technique and materials in new ways. My own work began to take on more dramatic experimentation under a recent five year mentorship by another known local artist. Although that relationship has since dissolved, my work and access to appropriate tools and insight is forever improved and evolving because of it. Frida Kahlo is, perhaps, my main inspiration towards being an artist. I relate to the way she challenged gender roles, sexuality, and disability while also being deeply political and infusing her self-taught art with all of those issues. Other favorites include Mickalene Thomas, Mario Moore, Christi Belcourt, Dylan Miner, Roberto Diago, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Judith Scott, Carrie Mae Weems, and more. I love noticing and exploring how artists produce conversations with other artists and art methods through their art, and how recontextualizing, reclaiming, and critiquing of past art, symbolism, and imagery builds new understandings both between artists themselves and with audiences.
Because I came to art originally as a writer and poet, my experience in writing and research is much more significant than as a visual artist. I continue to write about a variety of issues not limited to art, but broader cultural analysis that is also informed by the role I see arts playing in our society. In this way I see my research and writing as being informed by art, and my art to be informed by research and writing both by myself and others. My goal during my undergraduate education in Art History is to improve my ability to wed those two sides of my skills and interests, and to gain the academic knowledge base necessary to properly integrate them. One of my particular areas of interest is in creating accessible and truly inclusive spaces, in a broad sense of those terms. I am concerned with how traditional and non-traditional art spaces welcome, gatekeep, and exile different parts of the community from participation, and in challenging that tendency.
I look forward to the ways that increased knowledge of art history can deepen my own work and how it connects to ancestral knowledge and cultural connections. As an adult student, this work is greatly about bringing my life experience and work into a more academic realm that prepares me to discuss the roles and purposes of art in contemporary society and the future. I see my primary academic role as being about bringing to light unknown and forgotten Disabled, Queer, artists of color and women artists.