Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Representation signifies social existence, and the lack of Mexican American representation in media, art and the mainstream American narrative is a clear dismissal of a people and their history. I grew up in South Texas and my world was filled with fields of cotton, an open horizon line, and a mismatch of Mexican and American identities and languages. I have listened to my parents’ stories of picking cotton, being punished for speaking Spanish, having their first names changed and later being forced to drop out of school. As I grew up I realized the rows of cotton we passed daily were the same fields my parents once had to pick. Through the process of making I have extrapolated the symbolic language from the sights, objects and textures that have always been present in my life. I am interested in highlighting an underrepresented geographic and cultural narrative, specifically the land and people of South Texas.
My practice is based on research on, and reflection of, my Latino family history, my personal narrative and America’s current political climate. I investigate multiple levels of representation through painting, sculpture and the use of traditional and non-‐traditional materials. My background in film also informs my painting practice; I create short videos that use my imagery as a vehicle to tell a story. Wanting more representation of Mexican American life in general, and in order to combine my experience in film and art, I wrote my thesis in the form of a short working screenplay. I am using the process of writing to explore the multigenerational, layered family experiences of shared memories, hopes, and traumas. This working script has the same urgency that preliminary sketches or studies have and will be the basis for future visual work. This is also the first step in utilizing another accessible medium that can reach a large audience: film.
In the South Texas of the 1940s, at the end of the Great Depression, in the midst of World War II, while Bing Crosby sang with the Andrew Sisters and Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali were making work, the lives of Mexican American migrant farm workers continued unobserved. Highlighting cultural markers (of both American and Mexican cultures), moving through a geography and reflecting on daily life, this biopic/historical drama depicts its protagonists in the straddling of two cultures, the speaking of two languages, and in their navigation of the dominant culture and the facts of segregation in South Texas.
Through my work I want to create a platform for more Mexican American representation in all facets of the mainstream American narrative. I want to make evident the visible edges where two cultures clash—even when those two cultures were born and raised in the United States.
Palacios, Gina Gwen, "Pienso en ti" (2018). Masters Theses. 284.
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