ARTIST STATEMENT: I am transdisciplinary artist born in Mexico (based in New York from 1993) working primarily in socially engaged projects since 1992. My practice began in the studio where I created works on paper that addressed the environment-as a subject and a metaphor-of the inner self. These concerns pushed me outside of the studio to work directly with others and my environment. It was at this time that I began working in the Amazon Rainforest. I wanted to integrate into my practice communal work methodologies activated by an exchange of knowledge that benefits all parts and developed the core of my working methodology: reciprocity, which is the balanced exchange of knowledge as the foundation for sustainable collaborative art-centered projects.
My work includes projects in the Amazon that repurpose traditional technology to produce hand-made paper and books with illustrated content guided by the shaman involving all genders and generations; collaborations with artisans and traditional stilt dancers from the West Indies, New York and Mexico that blend performance, procession, costuming, dance, craft, carnival and protest for artistic interventions; to a project that centers on activating restorative memory and dignity. For this transnational project I enlisted the collaboration of universities, government institutions, forensic anthropologists, social psychologists, scholars, activists, and artists and was successful in repatriating Julia Pastrana from Norway to Mexico for a dignified burial after 153 years of being exhibited (while she was alive and after her death in an embalmed state). Additional works related address feminism, objectification, human traffic, gender, indigenous rights and the body, through animation, artist books, works on paper, and performance.
Currently my work seeks to further the expectations of socially-engaged art by moving across disciplines by involving unlikely collaborators (archives, scientists, activists, rock stars, burlesque performers, street dancers, theater companies, storytellers, artisans), developing works such as an evolving multidisciplinary performance with various performers, animation, a collection of zine publications with artist contributions, works on paper, photography and sculptural works that directly address issues of human rights and feminism by integrating critical voices from popular culture, burlesque, and performance to insert itself both inside and outside the art world.
While my projects are socially engaged, they also integrate a strong studio practice for their execution. My challenge-and joy-is to activate collectively the shared objectives of the project and to materialize its ideals through art.
What-Lives-Beneath 2016 Performance still. Collaboration with dancers. This performance: What-Lives-Beneath was created as part of TBA21, The Current and presented in Kingston, Jamaica. The performance work is a collaboration with the Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker, Ami
What-Lives-Beneath 2016 Spontaneous Intervention. Performed downtown Kingston with dancers Duration: 40 minutes approximately This performance: What-Lives-Beneath was created as part of TBA21, The Current and presented in Kingston, Jamaica. The performance work is a collaboration with the Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker, Ami
What-Lives-Beneath 2016 Performance still. Collaboration with dancers. Wearable sculpture: bilum bag from Papua New Guinea and assorted textiles Duration 40 min. approximately This performance: What-Lives-Beneath was created as part of TBA21, The Current and presented in Kingston, Jamaica. The performance work is a collaboration with the Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker, Ami
Diablos. From the series: Intervention: Indigo 2015 Hand-woven indigo-dyed cotton textile by Habibou Coulibaly. Indigo-dyed cotton brocade, printed cotton, machine embroidery, decorated sneakers, natura Performance still Jarana Beat musicians based in New York performed as part of Intervention: Indigo. Their portrayal is inspired by the Danza de los Diablos as it is performed in the African Mexican coast of Oaxaca.
Little Jaguar and Indigo Jumbie. From the series: Intervention: Indigo 2015 Performance still. Collaboration with dancers. Duration 120 min approx Intervention: Indigo was performed in Bushwick New York, starting at the local Police Precinct. It is a work that combines procession, performance, music, dance and protest.
Intervention: Indigo from the performance by the same title 2015 Hand-woven indigo-dyed cotton textiles by Habibou Coulibaly. Indigo-dyed cotton brocade, printed cotton, machine embroidery, decorated sneakers, natur Installation detail. Total dimensions of installation variable. Total duration of performance approximately 130 min. Photo: Dora Somosi I created these pieces in my studio and were performed in Intervention: Indigo with Chris Walker, Jarana Beat and The Brooklyn Jumbies. The intervention route began at the Police Precinct in Bushwick
Rolling Calf from the series: Intervention: Indigo 2015 Hand-woven indigo-dyed cotton textile by Habibou Coulibaly. Indigo-dyed cotton brocade, printed cotton, machine embroidery, decorated sneakers, natura 90 x 23 x 26 in This wearable sculpture was performed by Jamaican choreographer Chris Walker in Intervention: Indigo.
Intervention: Wall Street 2011 Large scale business suits worn by stilt dancers. The Performance combines procession, dance, music and protest. Performance still. Duration approximately 40 min. Photo: Frank Veronsky In 2007, I begin to work with a local group of stilt dancers. I:W combines procession, dance and protest and was performed in the Financial District of New York. The Brooklyn Jumbies and I performed
Transcommunality 2012 Textiles created by master weavers and embroiderers, stilts in collaboration with traditional crafts makers from Oaxaca Mexico. Dance, craft, music a Performance still. Duration 40 minutes approximately. Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. Photo: Marco Pacheco In 2009 my project expands to include traditional stilt dancers from Mexico to perform with the Brooklyn Jumbies and invite traditional craft masters from Mexico to collaborate on the creation of the
Osebo´s Drums 2005 Community project. Made from discarded materials, donated fabrics and natural materials. Performance Still. Presentation and Performance for Junior Carnival, Trinidad and Tobago. Photo: Stefan Falke In 2001 I begin a project in Trinidad and Tobago with an outreach community group serving at risk youth in Port of Spain. I worked with participants, parents and local artists to create thematic devel
In The Order of Chaos 1996 chromogenic print 30 x 40 in Ed. 3 In 1993 I began a paper and bookmaking project for the Yanomami Community of the Amazon (still continues today) in exchange for being taught how to build traditional canoes. During this time I created
Yanomami Owë Mamotima workshop 1992-present community papermaking and bookmaking project From the series: Amazon. In 1993 I began a project in the Yanomami Community of Mahekoto: while I was learning how to build traditional dug-out canoes. I taught the community how to make books and pap
Remedios. From the series: Terra Incognita 2006 Life-size religious figure cast in Malaysian paraffin wax, cotton wicks, fire 70 x 25 x 17 in. Duration 3 months. As a result of my experiences in the Amazon, my work in the studio turns toward a critical analysis of our colonial past in Latin America and the use of images for conversion. The candle slowly melts
¿Qué tiene que ver la piel, el pelo, la pluma, la madera con el jaguar, brujo, mago, s 1998 5 columns of handmade overbeaten abaca paper with New Testament inclusions and natural fibers suspended from the ceiling with cotton thread, books: Ne Installation. Total dimensions variable. Floor to ceiling. Resulting from my experiences in the Amazon, my studio work turns toward a critical analysis of our colonial past in Latin America and the use of the New Testament as an instrument for conversion as i
Temporal Displacement. From the series: Traces of Infinity 1999 Outdoor Installation. Double sided mirror interruption in path covered with peony flower petals and paper. Total dimensions variable. Duration 5 months. Wave Hill, Bronx. Working with undocumented workers collecting discarded flowers from the flower district of New York. Flowers were separated by type and color, dried and combined with fresh petals
Epitome o modo fácil de aprender el idioma Náhuatl 1996 62 figures of wax from Campeche with human teeth and hair on bamboo structures with rope Total dimensions variable. Floor to ceiling room installation
Julia y Laura. From the series: La Extraordinaria Historia de Julia Pastrana. 2013 gliceé print on watercolour paper 17 x 22 in In 2004 I began a project to remove Julia Pastrana b. 1834 -who was exhibited alive and dead (embalmed)- from a collection in Oslo to be repatriated for burial and in 2013 was buried in Mexico. A por
Lent y Julia. From the series: La Extraordinaria Historia de Julia Pastrana 2016 gliceé print on watercolour paper 22 x 17 in
Bienvenida a casa. From the series: La Extraordinaria Historia de Julia Pastrana 2012 Handmade paper, abaca and cotton. Pulp painting 18 x 24 in. Ed 11 Produced with graduate students at Columbia College Chicago Center for Book & Paper Arts. The work was created to be used during the repatriation and burial of Julia Pastrana to Mexico.
Familia Victoriano. From the series: Retrato de Familia. 2011 Chromogenic print 26 x 25.5 in. Ed. 5 Working with the book Retrato de Familia (Family Portrait) by Lourdes Almeida. I remove all faces from the book to reveal the layered histories behind each family, and I re-photograph each family to c