Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why is art important?

On Tuesday April 18, 2017, our professor discussed the repercussions of the government cutting founding for NEA.  And a very important question was asked: Why is art important to you? I’ve been painting for about 13 years now. I am not a professional, I have not developed a career out of it, I have simply been painting flowers, trees, mountains, rivers, oceans and people on canvases for the mere pleasure of it. I have given some of my painting away for free, but I’ve never charged for my art. I’ve been offered money at times, but I’ve refused payment and have given my canvases away instead. To me, art is my hobby. When I paint, I lose myself in the canvas. The world fades away, and I fade away with every brush stroke. I find painting therapeutic, and at the same time magical. When I finish a painting sometimes I’m amazed by how my imagination guides my hand to create an original image. Painting is like magic, because it’s like bringing my dreams to life. And my favorite part about painting is mixing my own colors! In my painting supply-box, I have only three colors: blue, red, and yellow—the primary colors, and my toners, black and white. When I paint the ocean, I look forward to making my own blue, which might consist of lightening down an ultramarine blue with white, and adding a little yellow for light, and perhaps a little red for shadows. Frankly, I’m fascinated by colors, and mixing my own paint on a palette is what I most look forward to when I paint. So to answer the question, why is art important to me? I would say art is important to me because it gives me joy. And I would argue that cutting founding for NEA would be unwise because I have seen art give joy to many children, who are affected by poverty, violence, overcrowded schools, and illnesses.

In 2011, I remember my church asked me to lead an after-school art program for children because government funding for the arts had been cut in public schools. I did this for about a year, and I will never forget the joy in the faces of the children when they would paint with me. We painted tress, boats, stick figures, and sometimes just lines together. And quite often, the children would express to me that what they missed the most in school were art activities. I taught the children color theory, and a few techniques in painting, but I will never forget the smiles on their faces. Therefore, I think that the government cutting founding for NEA is like the Grinch stealing Christmas, because it takes the potential for so much joy away.

(Me leading an after-school art program with Launchpad)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Obsession for Beauty

In the video "The Obsession for Beauty" about Robert Mapplethorpe's exhibit, a woman expressed feeling discomfort when she saw the photograph of the boy yet she thought it was normal for the girl to be photographed. I thought that was very interesting because usually people find it discomforting to see a girl photographed in a manner that displayed her private parts and people think it's normal for little boys to be photographed nude and some even find it funny. So, hearing the opposite opinion was very interesting to me. Like the other people in the video, I agree that Mapplethorpe's work should not be seen as pornography. I found all of his photographs artistic, including the Sadism and Masochism collection. As we know, art is a form of expressing one's vision and art varies from one artist to the other. When Mapplethorpe photographed all the individuals that he did, he was not doing it with the intent to make his audience feel sexual attraction. Instead, he intended for his audience see the photographs and feel great aesthetic pleasure. In the video, a good amount of photographs were shown and I was simply admiring the ways the photographs were taken; the shadows, backgrounds, positions of the models, the aspects of the body that were focused, and their simplicity in general. I don't think the photographs are offensive and I think they are interesting because of how he positions the models and focuses on certain parts of the models.

Image result for robert mapplethorpe s&m collection

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Our Lady of Controversy: The Life in My Virgins

Chapter 8 really spoke to me because it talks about the lesbians and the queer's demanding their rights to love. I, being an openly bisexual female and being Chicana, have never thought about the inequalities generations before me had to go through. The authors/activist marching for "basic" human rights is absurd to me, that because we like the same gender, we cannot be seen as equal and have to endure discrimination from our neighbors. The quote that really stood out to me was: "Like our friends and families across the border, we marched to demand recognition as equal members of our communities and societies, deserving of the basic human rights to live and love free from the threat of discrimination or violence". I really enjoyed this chapter because it was relatable and brings about the intersectional injustice queer, chicanx bodies face. They also analyze the times chicanx artist had to fight for their art to be represented the way they want it to; and to be socially accepted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Lady of Controversy

The third chapter in the book, The War of Roses: Guadalupe, Alma Lopez, and Santa Fe by Kathleen Fitzcallaghan Jones talks about the way in which the “Our Lady” was perceived by people of different gender and insider/outsider perspective, but focused mostly on the politics of the art piece. Jones presented how the controversy reached not only politicians due to protestors, but how the community as a civil power took control of the event and they were able to convinced different committees and people in power to remove the art. However, Jones also points out how these protests were not really given Alma and the Museum representatives, the ability to speak. Ultimately, it felt as if the women’s voice were once again, as we have seen through history, trying to be kept silenced. This is why the quote “Our Lady is not a depiction of a sweet, submissive mother or virginal princess [but] and assertive force… of a threatened population (p. 63)”, it’s such an important quote. It keeps reiterating the idea that Our Lady it’s not a religious image, but a piece of art that stated the independence and the reality of Alma and of that of Chicana and Latina women who fight against oppression and do fit the standards. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Our Lady of Controversy

In the Chapter, It's Not About the Art in the Folk, It's about the Folks in the Art, Ty Marianna Nunn, the curator of the Cyber Arte exhibit in MOIFA recalls her experience during the controversy surrounding Alma Lopez's art piece. We get to see the experience from the perspective of the person who created the exhibit and get to see what a big impact it made in the world. Where the exhibit was originally intended to showcase the art of Chicanx feminist artists because they tend to be the greatest percentage in the digital divide, it ended up creating a much bigger impact that just awareness of these artists. It created a dialogue surrounding traditionalism and modernism. The controversy surrounding Alma Lopez's work allowed others to think critically about what La Virgen de Guadalupe represents and how she is a type of symbol of resistance against the patriarchy and what is heteronormative. She can be reimagined to represent many types of groups and can be used as a tool for discussing in depth the patriarchy that plagues the catholic religion. This last statement, in particular, can be seen throughout the book in that it tends to be men that speak out against the representation of the Virgen, in a sense imposing their beliefs on what she should represent to the women who's culture she is a part of. That is the epitome of patriarchy.

Our Lady of Controversy

In 2001, Alma Lopez sparked controversy with her interpretation of la Virgen de Guadalupe. To the large majority of Mexicans and/or Chicana/os, la Virgen is a sacred image; she is held to somewhat of a delicate, feminine standard that is subconsciously followed by all, but strongly encouraged my men. Exercising their freedom of expression, Lopez and a handful of artists alike have taken the original image of la Virgen and made it their own. While this text discusses what such pieces represent and how the public has received them, they all revert back to Lopez’s piece, Our Lady. In short, Lopez was scrutinized for her representation of la Virgen; members of the Catholic Church saw it disrespectful and incredibly sexualizing. Lopez, on the other hand, saw her image as recapturing the feminine spirit, allowing la Virgen to own her body rather than let the man control it for her. While the book offers several accounts all referencing Our Lady, I have chosen to discuss the following excerpts as they all effectively support the theme of decolonizing the mind.

The Decolonial Virgin in a Colonial State. To begin the discussion of decolonizing, I would like to first refer to Chapter 7 of the text. In sum, Emma Perez offers a short history of how the colonial mind-set came about in regards to thoughts bestowed upon la Virgen, and further illustrates the backlash Lopez received prior/during/after Our Lady was brought to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The responses that Lopez received varied; some supported her, a handful thanked her for challenging their view of la Virgen, and others were purely disrespectful, offensive, and (at times) threatening. One response that stood out to me most reads as follows: “This isn’t very nice for catholics who praise our lady of guadalupe. have a little more respect for our lady and for yourself,” (152). This response to Lopez perfectly exemplifies the idea of colonization; the individual feels as though that which she praises has been disrespected and reflects upon the way Lopez sees herself. By failing to accept a more modern viewpoint, this individual does not understand that by representing la Virgen in this manner, Lopez is exhibiting respect for females everywhere. La Virgen is seen in the flesh, wearing a bikini adorned in roses. Coupled with her gaze and stance, she is reclaiming her body and ridding herself of patriarchal control. If that does not show respect for oneself, I question, “what does?”

Our Lady of Controversy

    Chapter three written by Katheleen Fitzcallaghan Jones, titled 'The War of the Roses.' One of the quotes that caught my attention was "people became caught up in one particular image in the show and ignored both the intention of the show and the other artists." I feel like this sums up the whole incident in general, the purpose of the expo was forgotten along with the appreciation of Chicanx artistic talent. There is little to no mention of the other Chicanx artists. On the plus side, the event drew huge crowds of people to the event thus fulfilling one of its objectives. Jones's article also mentions that the other purpose for the expo was to show "the presence of Latino presence on the internet," which ironically was also fulfilled since most of the protesters organized themselves through web pages, e-mails, and online magazines. Other than that, the over-the-top response to Our Lady blew out of proportions and the church and state got involved in the argument, which had nothing to do with the original purpose of the expo. The fact that dramatic people such as Villegas could have such a dramatic impact on people and instigate such a large outcome is mind boggling.

Our Lady of Controversy

In Chapter 7 of Our Lady Controversy, titled “The Decolonial Virgin in a Colonial Site,” the author of the essay, Emma Perez, relates that "Our Lady represents a transformative move toward decolonization in which the virgin/whore binary is disrupted and women are honored for their multiple ways of being" (Loc 3387). We, as Chicanas/Latinas/Hispanas, live in a community where the image of a woman has been colonized by both the patriarchal Catholic church and the men within it. We are set to abide by the image of a virgin, strive to be holy, and in the second we stray away from this road of virginity and holiness, we are dubbed whores. This “virgin/whore binary” is kept alive by men who are afraid of women owning their own femininity, who are afraid of women gaining their independence and dominance in a world where men want them to remain subjugated. Our Lady serves to represent a woman who doesn’t abide to the colonized image of women (the binary set by men and church) as she is neither a woman who is actively trying to be like La Virgen in terms of conservative clothing or a whore, as she is portrayed as a holy icon. Our Lady thus provides a challenge to the colonized image of a Chicana, allowing for the decolonizing of the standards of woman as there are not only two types of women, two types of being. Bit by bit, we are coming closer to a destruction of the patriarchal monopoly on women and everything attached to us. They will no longer define us; they will no longer limit us; they will no longer own us.