Artist Talk – Cultural Cousins: a show of Latinx and Filipinx artists

[Applause] my name is Jean Holland Oni and I am an artist and a curator of cultural cousins with us today we have my very good friend Genesis Valencia who is also the exhibition manager and she will be Co moderating the artists panel we also have seven of our artists here today so max Karl Emily Janette Manuela Donna Bell and Maria I'd first like to thank Laura Manhattan Cultural Council for awarding me of creative engagement grant to make the show possible thank you also to to Shama for providing this generous space thank you to everyone here who can make it today and a big thank you to the artists for agreeing to be a part of the show very early in the year trusting my vision and their patience and seeing this show slowly materialized and to what it is now and of course thank you to my family and my parents for being there supportive so a little bit about the show cultural cousins has been a work in progress for a little over a year now the concept is rooted in my ongoing investigation with Philippine history and Filipino American identity so last year I was reading Anthony Christian o Campos book the Latinos of Asia how Filipinos break the rules of race and then he discussed how the Filipino the Filipinos he knew in LA associated more with the Latino community versus the Asian one and I was really interested in that statement and was like yeah that's kind of true because a lot of my friends tend to be a team and so I wanted to research more about the cultural ties between Filipinos and the rest of Spain's colonial subjects that's a way of figuring out what is native to the Philippines and also like what is needed to all of us in our respective cultures and ethnicities and I also wanted to acknowledge the similarities so I would often reflect my findings to Genesis who is of Dominican and Ecuadorian descent and we would eat out about all these cultural intersections of our upbringing like relating Spanish words to tagalog words like como estas and caboose Baca and even how we never felt Filipino or it's American Ecuadorian enough to be considered those cultures or ethnicities because we grew up in America so this is just really exciting to explore um yeah I'm in complete agreement I want where he's also thought that these conversations that we had were incredibly important like I'm the daughter of immigrants that grew up in the United States so I feel like I've had a lot of looks or an opportunity in terms of being able to learn Western arts and philosophy and languages and all sorts of things but I feel like one of the things that has always been difficult to come to feeling like I fully understand is my own cultural heritage and I feel like that's not very uncommon like a lot of the times when you grow up in a family that doesn't introduce you to your cultural heritage you just think of assimilating and you end up disassociating with a lot of the things that make you different because it just makes growing up feel a little bit easier like it's easier to get along with a lot of people so when I did come to the point where I felt like I wanted to learn more about my culture and just empower myself or advocate for our presentation for people that were like me or looks like me I also felt like there weren't a lot of resources that I could turn to it's her look to so a lot of what I clung to were things like language or food because I know that as a Latina person there's a certain language that I have or certain you know my people eat for example like during the holidays something that was really big was eating the late Shawn and then also something that I thought was really unique to my culture was just the fact that we ate run like one of my favorites and many desserts so it was incredible talking to Jean about these things because when I would talk to her about things like Leonor blonde I just learned that she had the exact same foods and she called them the exact same names and it was really broadening because I started to realize that a lot of these things that I thought were unique to just my culture weren't just specific to my culture and it opened up these incredible conversations about the legacy of Spain and how it affects people in similar ways there are so many different cultures and because of that I've been so supportive of this exhibition and just gave the of team bringing together these artists from the Philippines or like just like the heritage so if you know heritage and Latino heritage to further these conversations and here even more perspectives about what people have been thinking so some of the artists here I met through previous group exhibitions some are friends of friends and some might just been stalking on Instagram and fantasize about having my work in conversation with theirs is also very intentional for this show to mix their work together to show that we have a lot of things in common and to show that we are family and I also wanted to create this warm home-like environment like having the follow the kitchen the recreational room to provide an intimate setting where casual discussion is encouraged and comfort into accessing our own personal narratives is provided I was also very particular insula artists that dealt with different mediums or push the limits of their traditional mediums because to me that parallels what mixed cultural or mixed identity is I also want to emphasize that these artists do not represent or speak for their entire culture so don't look at like Jeanette's wall and say this is the minikin art that is just one facet of what American art could be she um so it is my hope that this portrayal of our cultural kinship has some effect and dissolving any cultural racial stereotypes that exists from the residue of Western history and humanize the experiences of artists of color and people of color so now if we can become the artists talk some of thanks Jean so we'd like to start off by asking each of the artists to introduce themselves points out their works in the exhibition and then just talk a little bit about your practice as an artist hello everybody my name is Max Edmond thought and my work is this blue wall these five works in my booth aren't mine this little guy in the middle is some of the two outside but as you can see my works like pretty bright colorful and playful and through my work I'm just trying to share memories experiences and stories that have been told between my family and myself about what it's like being both Ecuadorian but also American here in New York City so that's essentially what I'm doing my work I'm just sharing my experiences in both countries hey everyone my name is Carl Orozco I am an artist I am a gamer and I'm a game maker my work comprises the recreational room over there so in the center of that room is a mahjong set that I created about a year and a half ago it's a module except created out of linoleum blocks that are printmaking blocks and so after each game of Mahjong that i play with that sets with others or teach others how to play we print records of their winning hands which you can see on the wall against it it's a tribute to my grandmother my Lola or abuela she used to run a lot in parlor and vanilla as a way to keep her husband home he went out a lot hello my name is Emily Farris and I made the necklaces that are around throughout the gallery I'm I grew up in Mexico City I'm half Mexican half Korean so I didn't see many people that came from my background and shared the same perspective as I did so with these necklaces I tried to introduce people to the idea of being of having Mexican full guard with traditional Korean folk art as well hello everyone my name is Jeanette moody s Pineda my work is in scale of wall to the photographs I'm a photographer and book artist and archivist and museum educator teaching artist in my work deals with memory essentially and how memory intersects with reality and what reality is or is not and what it can be um I'm a total dreamer and and with the dreaming sometimes I skew my own reality and I have to rely on others to tell me whether or not I actually remembered something correctly and that's something that growing up was very difficult to hear but now as an adult I realized that it's not that I was wrong and they were right but rather that they all exists as truths and so my work combines my photographs along with my father's photographs and writing and its antiquarian processes so anything that's black and white is platinum palladium a process which is all analog and it's a printing process from the 1840s using platinum and palladium metals and the Sun to prints and so my negatives are the size of the prints the color photographs are all analog photos as well um I shoot medium and large format and I still shoot with the same camera that my father gave me when I was 15 which was the camera that he first used when he immigrated to the it states Dominican Republic hello my new a Lachlan Silas and I from Colombia but have lived more than half of my life now between Florida and New York a my work is the painting on a blind kid that's all the way in the back corner and this painting on the towel right here along with two of their little ones that are on that bath mat and one a little quilted piece of fabric and I can point them out to you guys later you can tell which ones they are hey but through my work a I am really interested in exploring the medium of like textile making whether it be like weaving or quilting or embroidery and interested in how that overlaps and intersects with like a history of representational painting and abstraction and also how it connects to me growing up a you know like as a kid in the same household as my grandma and my grandparents and having a one of the first creative practices that I was ever engaged in the making dresses and little things along with my grandma and that sort of be my what I consider my visual ancestry is this way of making that's really connected to like a more intuitive way of creating that's really connected to color and texture and things that you know belong in the home and typically our background or exists on a background on to my work I'm really interested in bringing those things to the foreground hello my name is Donna Bell cassis and I was born in the Philippines but I came to the state's when I was two years old and moved to Seattle lived there from 2 to 8 but then spent most of my life on the East Coast my work are the baked beans behind me to here there are three over there and two over here and what I'm interested in our markers and patterns of identity sort of how we project ourselves out into the world how we want to be seen versus how we are perceived and so how we take what we see what we know our memories our knowledge to create these perceptions and I look at a lot of things I look at is delicious as bullfighting costumes I look at Kalinga tattoos and I also look at facial recognition software just to give you a broad view of what I what I look at in terms of how we garner information about people and how they interpret those things hello everybody my name is Maria Lea Bona I am a first generation that denotes a latnok my parents are from Colombia and Peru and I grew up in New Jersey Paterson New Jersey was predominately black and Latino and my work are the ceramic pieces you see sprinkle around the room there are three figures the three figures or self-portraits of me I am attracted to the Rococo era the aesthetics of the Rue Cler and it's interesting because of Rococo how it actually I see it in within my culture in Colombia and the households that on my family live in like this aesthetic and I'm really drawn to it and I'm also drawn to the pastels and the gold from the basilica's and the religion that has influenced the culture and also my family in my household so the three figurines are me laying down as if I was a friend Francois fouché Wu Shan I slaughter names and and being also a plus-sized girl I'm not living to the aesthetics and the expectations of especially in Colombia you're supposed to look a certain way and so I do not fit into that mold I curl my hair I don't stray in it and so in these poses I am being that I'm pushing against that but also its current and I'm being lazy and I'm looking at my cellphone and it's like a mirror right it's a mirror into everybody else and I'm desiring what everybody else has and and so much more and then they have cakes in the back the cakes are usually typically we have a lot of cakes in our family especially when I'm with my parents every celebration there's a cake but these are cakes of celebrating my failures so they're not that they're not happy or positive they're very sad moments in my life documents is through creating these cakes and the rainbow arches around there they're a particle another series that I did about in search of happiness and rainbows and all these rainbows make me happy like trying to live the American dream but then am I like am i what's the word it's like oh my gosh I'm doing the American Dreams but I'm also latina and I have to remember my culture and my American so there's a lot of complex stuff in my work that I that I deal with when I'm making these things so yeah so also based on like some of my studio visits with you guys and a lot of you had storytelling aspects in your work and I was interested in how is cultural identity documented and reclaimed in your work for example like is there a rule that process plays or patterns food family obviously when you make an object an art piece is out in the world I can't be there to explain so many people interpret it the way they are going to interpret it so I use titles to like show that this is made by a Latina or line-x artist so oh my oh my majority of my work is in Spanish and there's a slight translation if I want to give you a translation or you can use your Google Translate to figure it out so that's one way of showing because it's also if you look at my sculptures they look they're femme and they have frosting on it it's like how it where's the Latino : connection there so I'm using the titles to share that like there this is part of it there's one way that I do so so I'm actually the opposite I don't title any of my work because I want to want to leave it to the viewer to sort of go in the direction that they feel free to do and because that's the nature of my work sort of how we take what we see and make make sense of it make meaning out of it and it's very different birds for everyone who see that so but my relationship culture in my work is that I specifically Philippine culture which I've actually never researched until very recently because I never grew up with with my ethnicity at home since my mom had remarried an Anglo and there there is a great pressure to assimilate that we didn't really sell do do any of that at home so when I started researching my Philippine heritage or Philippine heritage in general I had come across Kalinga tattoos and specifically how they told a story on their bodies and without language necessarily that you were able to see where they wear their status was in their community what they did in their community and you know sort of representing yourself with that language is very fascinated to me similarly to what Genesis and what you talked about about having to assimilate to a culture when I moved to u.s. I had really hard time adapting to the I came here when I was 15 so I had really hard time in school and I just wanted to like erase on my background it just be like any like American person so I never really thought about my background or what it means to be Korean or what it means to be Mexican until I went to art school and it when I went back to Mexico after like ten years of not being there I started to see where I grew up in a totally different way because when I was living with my my family in Mexico it was I all run by one man like all the men are gone in our life like everybody we had only their mothers and my grandmother raised us so it was very different when I came back and saw that there I'm sure that you guys have the same experience when you go home and you see something totally different and when you were living there so I try to work with techniques and methods that are often associated with women like we be and brazing and beating as a way to understand my culture from both sides because I actually didn't grow up exposed to that culture at all and by me doing so I exposed my parents as well to their own culture that they loved I think for for me I use a lot of a lot of references to fabrics and the way that I try to pick what fabrics I paint to represent or include in the work our fabrics that remind me of growing up like growing up or choices that may be more my grandmother would make or my mother would make rather than choices that I would make for my own home so in a way this like reflective of a culture that I grew up around and has influenced the way I just you know like visually design my world but that is also reflective of like the visual ideas of the women that I grew up around and I think that this is a really interesting question because I don't know necessarily of a lot of the pieces reflect everything visually that was going on around me mijung when I was growing up but I feel like when you were talking about the influence of like like the Spanish invasion how I also like a fact sort of the UH the aesthetic that you are supposed to emulate and like and so I feel like I do end up choosing a textile patterns that maybe are not like you know the same weavings from that I like love that you see if you go to a New Zealand or doe in Colombia but more you know like the little like pillow that my grandma puts on the bed that is like the same thing like when you're talking about rokoko in Colombia so I I love thinking about that because of like that contrast of what really would be like only inclusive and really considering what all of our employers are but that in contrast to what's like specifically chosen to represent yourself and that exclusion yet that because they work so I actually went to high school in Queens Long Island City High School against anyone else that's right took my first class art history class and it's pretty good but like the artists we would see we're like Picasso Matisse etc etc white men from Europe you know they're dope they don't represent me and so with my work I try to be exquisitely myself I try to bring out my cultural symbols explicitly like if you have gone to the doorway you'll see this yellow piece it's table and on the table you see something that looks like a dead rat it's not a dead rat is something called GUI which is wild guinea pig and it's like uh so I'm from Ecuador I don't know if I said that I'm sorry and I'm from literally from the mountains that the Incas lived on and cuy which is just wild any patron is something that was passed down from that time line through my family till where I am now so I use that symbols like that for example on this one all the soccer jerseys are specific teams from my country of Ecuador but what I also like to do sometimes is I like to take some of my favorite European artists I like to take some other images and paint them essentially I steal their image and paint them as tan people like those guys those guys those people like that you see at the bottom right that's actually the image that from max beckmann I don't know if they all know max beckmann he's a german artist from a world war ii area so i'd like to use some of his imagery i like Picasso I love Matisse so I try to take what they took from our you know from our POC countries and change it back to my culture and hopefully that can carve some representation for people that look with some way yeah I can go on the topic of game of silence storytelling and like processes I've always been interested in games as like a way of having a non linear story or a story with multiple paths and multiple endings specifically around mahjong it's a non-traditional set that I created that uses different symbolism from the traditional Chinese set I've always been taken by the colloquial term for shuffling and mahjong tiles that varies depending on the country but at least in my family and amongst other Filipinos I haven't met a lot of us call it going swimming the shuffling they're doing like a horizontal freestyle stroke yeah I've always been like taken by that little aphorism and so with the tiles I wanted to turn the traditional tiles and symbols and turn it into a creation myth of the Philippines and of that archipelago and of that island nation so in that set there are three gods from with Ogawa creation myth and Mihan LNC Naya and potala palace of land of sea and that space in between and I wanted to have this represent coming together of a nation but also a dissipating of a nation that happens through colonialism that happens through outside influence so that's one way I'm playing with storytelling and by recording each game with that set I also like thinking of the records that print records as a record of a sort of a community convening it's of four people coming together and trying to respect that tight and so my work what we're seeing here is more so just like a sin a bit of a much larger body of work that I've actually been doing since I was 15 and it's lifelong it's not a project that I see an end to and and it's all based on storytelling essentially in moments within my family we're not just within my family but also within my culture where I felt oppressed um but also how those moments are still make me who I am and there is these moments where I feel incredibly proud of it and for example there's there's the two pieces of my my div Santa with the one do list and that was taken this year um I split my time between the Dominican Republic and New York I'm very lucky in the sense that I have both homes still I was born here in Queens but I lived in the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo and I always go back and forth and my parents emigrated to Queens both in high school my mom was a junior and my father was a senior and my uncle Giovanni gave my father an old Minolta camera and was like hey shoot I take pictures this is how you'll get to know the space and the funny thing is is that my father when he immigrated to the United States he emigrated in the middle of winter and my grandfather forgot to pick him up from the airport so he was chilling at JFK yeah like in a short sleeve shirt with nothing he's like how do I get to Queens or like he wasn't pleased we didn't know where he didn't geographically understand where Corona was and he ended up walking to Brooklyn and someone explained to him how to get it and yeah so he ended up walking a lot and so he started using this old Minolta to understand queens and so I grew up with this obsession of looking at my father's photographs of understanding Corona because I grew up in the house that my grandparents ended up purchasing so in this house with all of my cousins like super needy all of it each other's yadava em and I became obsessed with memory as an object specifically through the lens of my father and he built a darkroom in his in his bathroom and so I grew up looking at all of these beautiful images and that definitely instilled within me this love of photography or what it is to capture a moment or it's a freeze moment in time and then this idea of moving forward like being first gen American I see my body Moss having children and we're losing a lot of our culture we're losing our language where you're losing for example just our greeting um I'm not religious by any means but I still when I walk into a family's house I say bendición not even because I care about the blessing but just because I care about the ritual um and so I decided that I needed to somehow be this family archivist to record everything so my main audience on it honestly is my family I make work for them and so my didactic information which is the wall text is written for them it's not written in a traditional art speak and I work in museums I do that all day every day but when it comes down to the people that I actually want to communicate with they don't feel invited into those spaces and they don't speak that language so for me it's about how do I remedy that that gap but also revel in like this beauty of this undercurrent that's floating between all of us right between what we are where we've come from where we're going and how do we take all of that put it on our backs and move forward and then share it and so my work also deals with a lot of writing incorporating out of my family's writing as well as my own all so that I can eventually give this to my nieces and to my nephews and to everyone in my family so they can actually understand where we come from because I have this fear that we're the last generation is gonna have ties to this island I'm one of the few cousins that actually goes up often and so why do we stop seeing value in this space in this motherland yeah I think it's a for me if this idea of being American in in my work is a really big deal because I also moved when I was a teenager from Colombia and all of a sudden here at this age or you're so vulnerable already and self-conscious and you can't like properly speak the language and you don't really fit in and all of a sudden things that in Colombia you know when you're living in Colombia you're looking to like Americans this role model so anything that's American is like you know put on this pedestal but then like when you become an immigrant all of a sudden the things that maybe when you were like living in Colombia you looked at you know you dismissed as everyday become these things that are like what that empower you become these bits of information that you have that nobody else has and so they become sort of like you're floating device they become this thing that okay I might not be able to communicate or get the sense of humor get the music but I do have this experience that you know nobody here has and so I feel like the moment that I became Colombian right which is the moment but you know I wasn't living in Colombia anymore it's this moment where I started sort of embracing my taste for things that I grew up sort of taking for granted like listening to a MOOC was with my grandpa you know like the the things on my grandma make some puts all around your house hey my dad taught me to take all these different things but when you're there it's sort of like yes it's there but that once you sort of like are out of place become really like important to you – you know like your survival in this place I mean we sort of have very similar stories but my family moved around a lot we moved about 13 times in my childhood so I never felt sort of a sense of place for the longest time and I never really had a connection to a place for the longest time and I think having recently come upon researching Kalinga tattoos and other sort of cultural elements of my ethnicity is that I'm in the same place sort of coming to a point where I am embracing versus before I was denying my heritage my sister and I were literally the only two people of color in her school growing up where we stayed the longest and that was very significant to me I tried to assimilate as much as possible saying that I was Hawaiian because I think people could relate to that it's an island and we're part of the US and we're very friendly and we're good-looking people really you know Philippines was not on the radar I think anything anyone who looked Asian was automatically Chinese like there was no differentiation and cultures so that's what I was growing up in and so I had literally denied my own culture for the longest time and so for me living in the States and my work it really is about how we take ownership of what we project into the world and that's based on you my experience with that sort of projection onto me but then my projection back out so I didn't get to point out my pieces but they're the felt pieces with the tiny paintings in them and I call them illuminated manuscripts and the paintings they consist of snacks that I ate growing up when I was a child and some of them are specific to the Philippines like banana crackers or dried mangoes and others it's just like Asian snacks like shrimp chips and I feel like that was very part of me to finding what my Asian identity is which is like on top of my Filipino identity and also I remember growing up not knowing if I should call myself Pacific Islander or Asian because when you think of Asia you think of East Asians like Chinese Japanese Korean and also tapping onto what Donna Bell said about Hawaii as more acceptable or something yeah not eatable right that like that also frustrated me a little bit too because the Philippines was part of America for about 50 years or so and nobody really acknowledges that history that we have this American influence built in us and it's still continuing and the way like we speak and like a lot of Filipinos are speaking more English than Tagalog and the language is slowly dying and what are we doing to preserve that you know so also in my piece is I also keep the price tags on the snacks so that you know where it comes like where it ended up but those snacks are also like like the dried mango you have them in China you also have them in Malaysia you have them all throughout the Southeast Asia and same with like the shrimp trips like their Korean so I think it's also important to acknowledge the trade between all of these cultures and what makes these cultures these cultures like Filipino identity is so mixed and same with Latina Dada I'm sure there's a lot of cultural influences that you get and I also know that in Mexico the colorful floral patterns you see that's all influenced from Asia so what makes us like who we are you know that's the big question it's so frustrating yeah I found this question really hard I think I'm like still working through a lot of this and I'm the first born in the family to be born in the United States most of the first boy in my family and the only boy in my family I think I always felt this like underlying pressure to be the breadwinner that like most boys I feel like having their family and with this piece that I was working on with this modular set I really wanted to remove money from the equation of playing when I was growing up that was always a very exclusionary force like whenever I wanted to play with 90,000 depos they wouldn't let me play because they said I would ruin the game like there's money on the line and I'd be ruining the flow of money that's happening in these transactions so it's in some ways it's like a direct defiance towards this goal of this American Dream of what we come to this country for but it also I don't know it confused me it's also takes a lot of privilege to say that to say that money I'm gonna remove funny money from this game and turn this into I don't know a social gathering or social occasion so yeah it's a hard question that I'm still working through but those are some dots so my mother is she's Korean and she really bought into me American dream like Oh be from nigga rags-to-riches later so she was determined that I would be US citizen no matter what and that cost her like my father he left because I was born in u.s. he wanted me to be like his first daughter to be born in Mexico and I'd live there but thanks to her I can be here because I think to me to live in the United States and to come to America means that I don't have to try to like survive for my living as much as my father and my mother had to like they like I have the privilege to have that room I feel that they were the ones who moved from their home country to another country to survive and look for a better opportunity and then I was born and then now I have the privilege of not having to do that not having to scramble and we work like three jobs to make ends meet like I can have the space for me to make art which they could have never imagined themselves doing because they didn't have time getting hot money or the right opportunities and because I live here that opened up for me so coming to America gave me that if I had stayed maybe Mexico with my cousins like I would be still an extraordinary we are still like and stuck in that cycle so just with all of this that you guys have been discussing in mind when it comes to a work of art when do you think you can say that a work of art has become Latin X or similarly at what point do you think it has become Filipina I like dick at that question a little more yeah yeah I think it's like I think it's right to say that like a piece of art is made to speak to an audience whether it's an X audience or a Latin X audience but I was just like hearing from all these initial discussions today about like difficulty with labels do we wanna label art with these like labels that I've already caused us so much trouble so sorry I just like question so I personally love to label myself as Latino I'm very proud of that I think if I didn't say that right they'd say that my heart was line-x or Latino I think that'd just be kind of erasing everything that has happened some through my entire history of my family like not only like the last couple years were like our history our ancestry and like when I do my work my titles are in Spanish everything that you see is something that's straight from Queens or straight from peckwell and I'm like I'd like to pinpoint those things and make it explicitly my my like Latin experience I try to make it like that and despite the fact that it's super Latino from my point of view and super from Queens from my point of view I think that even though it has those labels it still has the any work has the opportunity to cross those labels and create conversations between cultures and people and countries please and and I just have a thought while all they were speaking how you feel if racism impacts or has impacted your work I use first-generation Colombian on here and I know that I bear the scars of you know being the victim of racism though I think it wasn't until much later in my life that I even realized this and I was wondering if any of that kind of informed your process or your work I really like hey while you were saying that it really like special you're talking about how you didn't realize that it until later in your life I feel like you know this work I'm like that I'm making now is not like the same kind of work that I was making you know like 12 15 years ago and I think part of what led me there is in a way realizing what I've suppressed and what I'm surprised because of all this you know likes audible microaggressions that have like shaped what I but parts of myself am like allowed to to express and what parts of myself I'm supposed to bury in order to kind of like fit in and participate in like making in the art making conversation contemporary art making conversation and I feel like the work that I started making again was like okay what are those parts and how can I like express that visually and how can I start reconciling again with these like you know like aspects of my identity that subconsciously you know like have stopped becoming a part of this conversation that I have with myself so hey I really like that really resonated with me because it's like that's like I think the the most difficult part of it is that you're not always aware that that's happening and that there's something really empowering about realizing by and sort of putting this puzzle back together that you know like at some point fell apart absolutely I mean I think that's where my work came from I didn't again realize till later that that's where it was coming from trying to make a sense of why I felt very different and why I seemed very different from everyone else and I was you know literally marked as different so it's it's my work is about that I will say I am privileged because I'm light-skinned compared to my after Latinas who who have experienced more racism than I have mine are very subtle not the act for me of taught using the titles for Spanish is my way say I am latina and that's exposing myself right I am privileged in a way that I work in a place that they want my Spanish and I can speak my Spanish and teach students to speak that language while teaching art so I have privilege in that way yeah but I do want to acknowledge that I am like in some ways white passing some ways I'm not and so the color of my skin has lit has let me in places or person to dark skin color by letting that community not and I come from a culture that's it's this is a very difficult conversation no because of the island and how we share it with Haiti you know and so I grew up always incredibly aware of skin color not just as it exists within my Grace's umberto colorism and my family as a joke I would say that we were the grayscale because my mother was a white woman my father is a black man and I'm in between and my thought my brother is actually light-skinned we would go out and people would assume that we weren't related and what that does and how that scars your family right and especially the women in my family my grandmother is also black women but she wasn't raised by her parents she was given up and the denial there's so much denial of who we are that we are black but that we are indeed as part of the colonialism and what does that mean for the way that we treat each other within our family um there's this real deep denial for us just even in the way that we look in the way that we carry our hair you know for example and I was just back home two months ago I'm letting my hair grow out but it was shaved and I have very very curly hair and so do all of the women and my family but the differences that they relaxed their hair I was forced to relax my hair as a child and finally when I was 17 I was like no no more um and my aunt looks at me and she's like I don't know where you got that hair from and I'm looking at her and I'm like wow you are so in denial of yourself that you have relaxed your hair so much that you literally believe somebody comes no straight look what is it that you do on Saturdays at the salon for like three hours you know like underneath that dryer like I'm very confused by this but it's at the same time is learning compassion because I would get very angry by the way that my family would treat me and I'm not even the darkest person in my family I'm again like I'm very aware of my own privilege within the context of my family and I just think about this you know this era of Trujillo I don't know how many of you actually know the history of Lies paniolo Kenya or anything along those lines and the dictatorship in how we had to create an entire race instead of saying that we were black because you wanted to survive and my family and it's part of my project none of those images are up here but my family's documentation instead of saying they throw it says Indio and so erasure like absolute erasure and how does that come into the way that you then think about yourself and love yourself and can you love yourself when all you've been taught is to hate yourself and furthermore for survival similarly to what you mentioned about the hair I was also forced since I was like 8 years old my mom was like well you have this hair like her hair is like straight like beautiful black and sleek Asian hair and she's like like like perming like straight to perm my hair since I was like 9 and like like it's my hair is like really current and like I calmed it today like I'm still trying to deal with that issue to this day but similarly to question to your to answer your question about racism I was very aware of that since I was little because in Mexico it's like all that you need I usually bad so like I was like no I am Korean difference and they're like oh yeah you're right so I never fit in even in Mexico and when I came to the US it's like oh you're you're like Asian but like you're not like a mexican last name like what are you like so like always like not like treated well and I went to school in Texas and it was a very conservative very like privileged like these people were like very wealthy so nobody talked to me and like I briefly went to a Elementary School in San Antonio and my only friend was a black girl because she was also excluded from the entire school so it always racism is always an issue for me and similarly to what you guys have said about your family like even within my own family they try to my grandmother especially because she comes from an indigenous group now one and she is make very very very Christian religious and for her that's like like a Satanist and like what are you like he's like taking rituals so she herself is erasing her own culture and I try to remind myself that the way that she raised me is like being like very religious and Christian is not the only only way I can identify myself because there's also this other history that they don't talk about they don't want to even like touch it so the only way I can address that is to making art and and going and trying to look forward to myself so when I was 11 I was actually coming back from soccer practice it was really late and I knew my mom was really mad at me that she was finally she's gonna hate me at home but with the sand I say somebody I lived only three blocks away from the Train and on the second block from the Train I actually got tackled and I got handcuffed by a police officer just because I was sprinting in my neighborhood I would just care that my mom's God thank you that's essentially why I was sprinting I'm had it up in for a group of like drunkards that usually drink on the corner we like actually advocated for me being from the neighborhood who has wasn't doing anything I would have probably been taken to the to the station and my life would have been ruined forever stuff like that I went to a white school in upstate New York where I was one of the first people that they have ever seen ever Brown had tattoos and look like they would beat him up you know so it was crazy and stuff like that always stays with you and that infuriates me to produce more work to represent like you know people who look like me but I think that every single one of us here are doing work that represents our cultures and communities and I think that's powerful and revolutionary because when I represent it at all and the galleries some of the biggest rally galleries in the world are only five blocks that way and we're very close to them and I think just the fact that we're here we have our work and we're all speaking our different languages and talking about our cultures that's how we fight back because change and find more representation person that was beautifully such Thank You backs like just the mixture that make you think about your work differently or other works differently just aesthetically I think in general we love color so I I appreciate the color and I embrace it and I love that I see so much of it around part of my work is I questioned those who questioned my lucky Nina and I feel like I can't get into my community and I'm trying to and this was beautiful just to be a part of like yeah I got Filipino because it just made more connections it's just really nice cuz I I'm in search of an accent looking an excellent Philippine expose community and that means so much and to have my work be a part of it so exciting and yeah so we will stop you about something I wanted to give props to Jeanne I had so many people that come to me for the opening and tell me how different the space felt from other galleries that they've been in New York City and one thing I wanted to remark on was I really like the way that all of our pieces are interspersed with each other it feels I mean you know you mentioned you wanted it to feel like a home but it feels very much like you have this space and you pick the pieces along the way and you would put them in the center of each wall but then have to make room for everything as so I couldn't learn more about her so I just I really like that kind of storytelling aspect of the face I guess it's also reflecting on the fact that we're all sharing a like similarity so you can see Carla's work and find similarities and like I used I we didn't know this but we both used game-like aspects like from cultures like I used what – it's a Korean play car they also came in Japan and I also used a little like it's hot yeah like just like what so easily we waited we didn't know that a lot of us were working in very similar ways and even though our background it might be different like we're still it like using the same I coming from the same perspective I love like hearing people talk about the similarities that are kind of coming up but one thing that I also really love is just noticing like how different everybody's work is to and how that illustrates just like what somebody else was saying about the you are saying about Jeanette's work that one artwork from the Dominican Republic is an every you know well and I love how like in this show you really have people who are working in so many different mediums with such different aesthetics kind of coming together exploring those connections so I that that's been really interesting kind of for me to see to experience the work next to other people who share in parts of my experience but are expressing it and exploring it with such different such different ways so that concludes our artists panel we have some room for three discussions from the audience but if anybody has believe it's okay you can feel free to get up and go but thank you so much for coming again and is there anybody that would like to start off with a question don't be shy so first of all thank you guys for doing this and like being here and sharing your stories – were like a comic question I kind of wanted to go back so a little bit of what you were talking about with that American influence in our communities for me I'm dominicano and so something that I find difficult to explain to people is the American presence in VR that it's not just like and I think this relates a lot to like Filipinos and most line-x people is that not only do we have the Spanish background but we also have like the American influence and how that messes with even how we how I even think about being Dominican cuz like the reason why like you said racism works in the way it doesn't the arts because of Americans putting through yo this dictator in place and so it's hard to explain to people that it's like no the mannequins are not just like self-hating it's just like there's also like an American thing and there's a lot of complexities like that and so my question is I'm curious as to how you guys may be personally or in your work I mean it come to your work because it's you deal with that that it's not just like sort of like that Spanish influence but that American influence and then being here and like being a child of immigrants or being an immigrant in this place I like wants your country but also like hates you News I've actually been doing a lot of research about how Filipinos were treated in America especially during the st. Louis World's Fair in 1904 which was this giant fair in Louisiana that had human zoos and they took people from Africa Asia the Philippines had like one of the biggest setups there and they took um a native tribe from the mountains called the egrets and they would beat them dogs every day because it was part of one of their like celebrations to dog but it they didn't eat it every day and it became a spectacle and reading about that history and how my people are represented that was really offensive but also growing up here in America learning to glorify American history that whole thing just kind of crumbled and and a lot of my pieces that I'm working on now I try to take in the tree or like advertisements from that time and I kind of insert myself in them and reclaim what those images mean and try to celebrate what being Filipino American is and I also want to humanize it because at that time there is also a lot of political cartoons where they depicted Filipinos looking like Apes or monkeys and how we were too dumb to assimilate with the rest of America and I want to show that like like we are not animals we are human and I think that's really relatable to everyone else also like any person of color in America so I was born here but then I lived my first eight years and I quote and the spike that I spoke Spanish first over there and was raised the first eight years of my life throughout those eight years I was a good Eagle it wasn't welcomes than a day after eight I came back here luckily I was speaking English back then I was bent ollieing which I spoke English with an accent when I came here now I have an accent because of years of you know just drilling drilling drilling [Laughter] sorry about that but there's this phrase that I think maybe some of us can understand it understand and feel isn't it needy akita need a yeah you know you're neither from here neither from over there and with my experience going up I wasn't really accepted here or there and then I also right now work for them so they do I do which is a table museum that focuses on Latin ex art but for the majority of it it's mainly Puerto Rican Dominican and Mexican and such every part which is fantastic but I you know there'll have a quad oriented on Peruvians Colombian South Americans very rarely so at least with my work I try to you know be overtly North American from Queens but also from Ecuador because I got a carve out that space for myself because there's nothing there yet so at least with my artwork I'm trying to open up that new for those who have specific cultural ties I don't really have anything like tied to my work here but I should have like a little anecdote well I was young my dad he picked up from a garage sale this like bronze lamp and it was a sculpture of Magellan a Ferdinand Magellan was the Portuguese explorer that discovered the Philippines and I remember like that night that lamp I know I was like I was very young as I must been like six lamp always gave me nightmares when I was young and it would just be like it was big and like maybe like three feet tall and it would always be like on my bedside one day my dad noticed that I started just putting a towel I just couldn't stand looking at it before going to bed so yeah I guess just in like a lot of our works we're just like trying to push back and decolonize these imagery this imagery and the space yeah I need to find out though I told now I'm like I should have held on yeah I just have like a story that's unrelated to art but that you just made me think of and wine of like though there was like an advert I'd like an advertisement on TV you and I was living in Konomi upper school shoes and the advertisement was literally like one kid asking the other where are your shoes from and the kids like oh they're from Miami and then the kids like I'm just getting their jobs you know this is like like oh you know I'm weary watching this is like everybody including me that you talked to they'll sing you this song for this like commercial and it's something that's kind of like embedded in your head so like what you were saying just really makes me think that it's not just like once you get here you're kind of taught that you're in a place of like inferiority but that you're like arriving or your family's arriving already with like those seeds planted and you've been like soaking in it for a really long time and so I yeah this is sort of like a a question with a lot of reference points I want to know how a sense of maybe ethics and/or responsibility comes into play with your art making I think there's you know the facet of art making that is therapeutic and you're processing something but there's also the question of representation how to do as you're processing something you feel the authority to responsibly say your message I think I got so when I first started art school I was really interested in making the stration and comics and I was really into manga and anime like all the teachers were like I can't do this like like that's silly and you need to be serious and like considering your background you need to like get serious and like do something like more substantial so I that's when I realized that I especially there was one teacher who made me like like she forced me to really dive deeply into my background and I almost like ignored what Italy brought me to art school because I just wanted to make little stories and like illustrate them and make me and but then I felt that I I had this other part of me that obviously was not represented at all like I don't I only know one person who is half Korean half Mexican and it's my cousin and he and he does music and so we briefly talked about it one day how like we have to be very careful about how we approach our work because we don't want to make people think that like someone like us would i'ma try to say like yeah like something that yeah yeah and you can have like something too inappropriate or offensive like and like I sometimes like a jealous of my artists were like go all out like doing like nude works and all these things and it's like so like this is how this feeds into like pigeon just few different points in I would say as a photographer I think about it thanks a lot I was introduced to a school of photography that's like street photography I was obsessed with like Jamel Shabazz and you know these these photographers that like Bruce Davidson and just like scavenging New York City for like this shot and so when I got into photography I was occu menteng Queens and I was talking when seeing my family and then I got into art school and that's what my work was like straight silver gelatin just very candid images very honest images and no one you had it for TKE my work they didn't know how to talk about it I went to the School of Visual Arts that was a very traumatizing experience I'm not gonna lie but it's also what made me an educator so I'm very happy for that experience actually and I didn't have the language to talk about their art and they didn't have the language to talk about mine and I for a long time would just cry in the dark room because I thought that this wasn't art like this is I guess my grandmother hanging out in the kitchen is an art or you know if I wasn't taking that nude photograph of myself in the bathtub or like smoking a cigarette with like a Rembrandt no I I don't know I am and then I hinted it which was the sad part is that I really truly abandoned it and I was like okay I'm gonna do this like super conceptual at the time what is his name Dutch photographer I'm blanking right now sorry he's not even touch Wolfgang Tillman anyone here know Wolfgang someone so he what PJs like me Wolfgang Tillman was all the rage and so everyone's photograph was like that like someone's like ow I don't know it was like really random the way that he installs his work as well that was really popular and I was like okay well I guess this is the work that people know how to talk about so this is the work that I'm gonna have to do but it was so to some genuine and it was not honest at all and it was really bad and then I went back to photographing my mother actually and my mother was battling cancer and just straight I'm gonna document this disintegration of your physical body and then it became a trust thing and then I realized in that moment that I had the responsibility to my subject to project them in a way that they felt honored and so now I've been thinking a lot about what is it to create work out of place of love and I'm I think a lot about bell hooks you and here and if I am operating from a place of love and that means that I have a real serious responsibility right and what does that look like and also understanding that I'm not going to get it right every time and that I have a community of individuals are willing to hold me accountable and that I then have to hold myself accountable I also you know I straddled the United States and also the Dominican Republic and I go there and I'm armed with this camera and it's a barrier the moment you pick up this object and you put it in front of your face you are automatically creating a wall between yourself and the experience and so I've spent I just turned 35 yesterday so I've spent decades now as an observer as being in this moment but at the same time being simultaneously out of it already thinking about the past because what I'm capturing is the past and what does that mean when I'm in the space with strangers or friends a family and I'm climbing up on top of this table to capture the Rosary that's being done you know and that's very private and very personal for these women who come together every day after we o'clock to do this rosary and then I'm here clicking away and what does that mean and my on last year was like what do you do with these pictures like what do you do with this and like oh you know I make books I'm a book artists and I show my work in exhibitions and they're like people want to see this not only I don't really know if other people want to see it but I want to see it on the wall I think that my grandmother being bathed by my on is just as worthy as wall space as this Wolfgang Tillman and Frank Ocean portrait like that's one of his foot most famous portraits as Monty you like oh now I know who will be I get questioning when you talk about ethics and culture are you talking about appropriation I think there are a lot of facets to this question as that can go in a lot of ways yeah corporation is one of them but also I think I'm interested in like art has fun you know but then also like responsibilities but now yeah well no only because what I do research I definitely reference certain patterns but I don't necessarily just take it and put it in my my work that's not what it's about I transform it them and other things but you're also talking about responsibility and frankly I'm just part of me it's just their responsibility at the door because it's really what what is why are you making it work you just make it for the questions you're asking not what they're wanting you to answer yeah we're going to wrap up and conclude our audience portion of the artist talk here but it's not the end of the night we're gonna stay for another hour until 9 o'clock the artists are gonna be here and we're gonna be here so if you have any questions please feel free to find the artists son just continue the conversation thank you again so much for coming here today an amazing experience and it's like something that I want to say is also the art works most of them are available for sale and a hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the artists so if anybody is interested in purchasing please also just feel free to find the curator or any of the artists thank you and have a good night [Applause]

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