"Had I left those images hidden in the emotions, I might have been torn to pieces by them." Carl Gustav Jung
Naughty is the manifestation of a poem I originally composed from a collage of Spanish words (some “Mexicanismos”). I found the words appealing for their crispness, i.e., cachivaches, cuchicheo, berrinches, chiflada, chiflete, metiche, etc. An audio track with the poem read in Spanish (in doll-voice) is part of the interactive piece. The poem was loosely translated to English and written on Naughty’s face to convey the essence of her tale.
I mean for the assemblage to be touched and explored—drawers, which are collages, can be opened. They are labeled: “remembered”, “repressed", and the drawer labeled “regurgitated" is the audio. Below, you can hear the poem in Spanish and English.
This piece was in Devils and Dolls, a group exhibit curated by Rebecca Sive at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago.
In my work, I often portray memory as something evoked by triggers that cannot be articulated simply as a "story". Memory occurs in muddied layers, levels, and pieces, and is metamorphosed according to what one chooses to remember at a particular moment in time about past events. A Childhood, illustrates memory in this manner.
The first layer is from my perspective as an adult woman and the artist creating the piece and recalling my childhood in Mexico. That recollection quickens the second level—that of the child looking at a magical and vibrantly colored world. Hence the surreal, warm, and brightly colored Mexican landscape painted on the door.
The third layer, within the box, is from the perspective of the little girl taking the form of her first doll and reliving her childhood in Mexico. It is within this realm that memory becomes tactile and the child comes to life by turning the handle and propelling her wind chime legs.
And finally, the fourth layer is that of the girl with a fixed gaze, looking straight ahead from the past to the future at a different land (the image on inside panel of the door) and through the porthole-like viewer at her own reflection as an adult woman.
This piece is a manifestation of a sketch I drew of a woman tossed in a desolate field, accompanied and comforted by an angel. I found the idea of the angel appealing but wanted something more powerful, consequently it became a disembodied angel’s head on a box – a “talking head” communicating by visual means. He is disembodied because he is spirit, not flesh.
The piece is an interactive assemblage employing found objects, an oil painting, and a papier-mâché and paper pulp sculpture. The box, which supports the angel’s head and wings, is a found object.
The box’s door is of non-glare Plexiglas selected because it provides a slightly blurry view when an image isn’t directly beneath it. Inlaid in the Plexiglas is a round magnifier, which is intended to draw the viewer closer for a detailed examination of what lies on the back surface – an oil painting based on my initial sketch of a partially nude female, lying in a field, surrounded by skulls. The difference between my painting and sketch is that rather than being comforted by an angel, the woman is being groped by a demon – symbolic of the killer(s) responsible for murdering over 450 females in Ciudad Juárez. The door can be opened for a closer unhindered view.
Beneath the door is a drawer, which serves two purposes. First, it represents a coffin. The handle is a nostalgic object – a Lucite pendant with a single rose symbolizing the flower often tossed on the coffin by each family member and friend before burial. Within the drawer is a collage of deconstructed words, which physically describe many of the murdered girls and women, i.e., cejas: gruesa y arquedas, nariz: mediana, tipo: afilada, cabello: castaño obscuro, etc. The words are deconstructed to symbolize the physical mutilation of many of the women and girls.
Next, while researching this subject matter, I read that some maquiladoras hired female employees because of their manual dexterity and because their small hands allowed them to easily assemble electronics parts, which are often enclosed in small spaces. Since so many of the women were employed at maquiladoras, it inspired me to place, in this small space, 27 hand bones (replicas). The bones are labeled in Spanish and English, with what the murdered women were to family, friends and people in the community i.e., hija, hermana, nieta, sobrina, prima, amiga, esposa, novia, mujer, niña, empleada, etc. This piece was part of Rastros y Crónicas: Women of Juárez, a group exhibit curated by Dolores Mercado and Linda Xóchitl Tortolero at the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) in Chicago from October 16, 2009 - July 4, 2010.
I also wrote a poem entitled, Morí. It was specifically written for Outcry, and translated to English.
Rastros y Cronicas: Women of Juarez Exhibit – Co-Curated by Dolores, Mercado and Linda Xochitl Tortolero. To view a video about the issue, link to: http://vimeo.com/7595547 – Women of Juarez by Matthew Cunningham.
The following is a poem I wrote as I was creating the assemblage shown below called Intangible Sweetness. The poem is included in the background of this mixed media piece.
Big girl face,
little girl soul
Wallowing in distant sadness.
Muted mauve mist,
dingy dustless tomb
burying her dolls and innocence.
Big girl face,
little girl soul
searching for intangible sweetness.
Hazy glass pipe
crystal rock candy
forgetting–for a fleeting hour.
Intangible Sweetness was inspired by the tragic story of a woman, and the phrase, "while visions of sugarplums danced through their heads" from The Night Before Christmas.
The doll head represents a woman, who as a child, was sexually and physically abused by her father. Additionally, the head is disembodied to symbolize a break from reality brought on by the abuse. The candy mobile above her head is the "vision of sugarplums dancing through her head". The candy-like pieces are the crack crystals—her addiction, and her desire to attain some semblance of childlike innocence, tenderness—sweetness, which is clearly, intangible.
The viewfinder is reversed to illustrate the audience's distant and detached perspective of the subject. It slides up and down the entire left side of the piece so that one can see the other elements of her environment—her unfortunate life in the same manner.
The woman is now in her early to mid 40s, her children were put in foster care when she was incarcerated as a result of terrible choices made as an addict. She remains in a state prison, and while certainly, one could argue that her life is a result of the choices she made as an adult, one could also point out that she didn't stand a chance. I think that her character, her soul, her spirit was severely damaged at an early age, thanks to her father's repeated sexual abuse, her mother's neglect, and perhaps even, complicity.
I've lost contact with her. I don't know when she'll get out of prison, nor do I know that she'll have the ability to change her life when she is finally released. When I last saw her, I felt so much sadness and pain for her – she appeared childlike, yet her face had aged incredibly. Her sweet, innocent smile was overpowered by her rotting and missing teeth. I pray that she receive the strength she needs to confront the two monsters who damaged her – the two monsters, she calls "father" and "mother".
I started working on an assemblage called Intangible Sweetness. The subject matter isn't pleasant but it is something I am compelled to express. I suppose one could call it inspiration. Last year while looking at illustrations in The Night Before Christmas, I came across one that I liked. You know, one of those old fashioned illustrations reminiscent of seemingly innocent times, which are long gone. The illustration depicted two little girls in bed, and as the story goes, "the children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced through their heads". How sweet, I thought, and wouldn't it be grand if that were always true. As disconnected as this might seem now, at that particular moment, my thoughts went to a woman, who as a child, was sexually abused by her father. Because of that abuse, she was psychologically and emotionally broken, and she still is. She turned to crack, became an addict and as a result of that addiction, made a series of bad decisions which landed her in prison.
For all intents and purposes, the woman, is a child – the crack was what she used to not only escape, but to attain that sweetness denied her by her abuser – the sweetness of childhood. The assemblage speaks to this subject matter.