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Artist Lab Discussion Panel
January 28 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The Guadalupe Cultural Art Center hosts a panel discussion with the six 2016 Artist Lab Fellows: Lisette Chavez, Sarah Fox, Raul Gonzalez, Kristel Puente, Andrei Renteria, Jose Villalobos on Saturday, January 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm in the Galería (723 South Brazos St.)
Panel participants will share, in detail, the decision making behind their works of art. The Artist Lab showcase is free to the public and will be on view through February 4th.
Lisette Chavez: “Cafeteria Catholic”
Exhibition Statement: A Cafeteria Catholic is an individual who selects which faith or moral teachings best suit their lifestyle at a given time.
I don’t always believe in God, I forever question my faith.
When I question my faith, I feel guilty. Rather than leaving religion altogether, I pick and choose Catholic teachings that interest me and suit my lifestyle. Because of my strict Catholic upbringing, I battle with accepting my thoughts and being myself. I was taught to suppress my radical ideas, not to draw attention to myself, not to wear bright colors, not to date boys and never told about “the birds and the bees.”
In this body of work, I simulate the memory of seeing my artwork hidden with bath towels by my mother. When confronted, she said, “I don’t want to see your drawings, they scare me.” She often hides things she fears and has always taught me to do the same.
The white fabric used in this installation is symbolic of purity and acts as a veil to hide my shameful thoughts from the judgment of others. Hand-drawn images imply the struggle between good and evil. It is an attempt to leave the suppression of living in a conservative Catholic family and reveal imperfect and impure thoughts.
Bio: Lisette Chavez was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, located on the southernmost tip of Texas near the Mexican border. An enduring interest in lithography resulted from a love of drawing at an early age. Her most recent work questions faith and confronts the discomfort in balancing religious beliefs and actions in every day life.
She is an educator and printmaker, specializing in lithography. She earned her M.A. degree at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and her M.F.A. at the University of Arizona. She is the founder of Show Me Your Print Shop, an international online resource and blog for print shop organization.
Her work is held in numerous museum, university and private collections including: the Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock; Monash University, Gippsland, Australia; Proyecto Ace, Buenos Aires, Argentina; St. Lawrence University , Canton, New York and the University of Colorado-Boulder. She is currently an Artist Lab Fellow and resident of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Sarah Fox: “Lick and Nuzzle”
Exhibition Statement: The installation Lick and Nuzzle palpates and questions a woman’s desire to have a child. The work is hopeful; a soft nose, fawn spots and nursery rhyme gesture fill the installation. But it is also a farewell and letting go; the reality of the challenge and choice to become a mother for many women.
Animals show up as surrogates throughout our visual and narrative history. The hybrids that fill my own work use this tie to animal nature as gateway to freedom. In the same way that Aesop’s Fox and Crow help us educate and explore morality, my own work uses animals to talk about shared human experience in a way that is ripe and ambiguous. Here, motherhood and loss are enacted by animal surrogates.
When a child is lost in the early stages of pregnancy it is often described as being a genetically unviable pregnancy. The baby deer hybrid in this work is a celebration of these tiny potentials, the decisions, chances and losses that women bear. She is a genetic mutation strange and sad, but ultimately beautiful. Here the hybrid creatures question the idea of a singular definition of normality and of what constitutes a full and happy life.
The gesture of a parent putting her or his nose to the top of her baby’s head is a universal, mammalian, act of bonding. Animals clean and nuzzle their young in much the same was we humans press our lips to baby’s warm cheeks, or nibble chubby fingers. It is a biological intimacy I explore in my sculptural works. The delicate wax somewhere between flesh and frosting, is an invitation to smell and bring close. The strangeness of the creature and vulnerability of the material serves as a reminder of the mysterious and harrowing journey towards becoming a parent.
This work was a collaborative piece with my own mother who is also an artist. One week a month for a period of six months we sat together and slowly created this piece together. Having just lost my second pregnancy, it was a way for me to still play a part in the important mother and child relationship, and a way for her to care for her adult child that needed her love and support. The resulting installation was the best of both of our combined skills and a physical manifestation of healing through a mother’s love.
Bio: Sarah Fox is an artist and educator living in San Antonio, Texas. She received her MFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015. She studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art in 2004 and earned her BA from Southwestern University in 2005. In between degrees she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, an aesthetic that made a strong impact on her work.
Multiple surgeries throughout her teens and early twenties left Fox with a cut and stitched together body. This imperfect vessel has influenced the cut and paste, collaged aesthetic that runs through all of her work. The characters that fill her world are an investigation and acceptance of difference.
Raul Gonzalez: “Work These Days”
Exhibition Statement: Work These Days is a presentation of two current bodies of work; Pieces of the City and WhataMachines. The series Pieces of the City is made up of paintings and drawings on concrete fragments that reflect sentiments of construction, the working class, and current events. In his WhataMachines, Raul uses screen printing as a tool to create multiple hand-rendered painting-drawing combinations that form a connection between Texas, Whataburger, and construction.
“While my work remains diversified in subject and style, I find it very important to continually use construction and work as a muse for discussing social issues, representing the working class, and finding beauty in the constant creation that is a part of construction. It becomes a symbol for growth, opportunity, struggle, and can be found in every civilization.
Construction became a part of my studio art practice in 2009 when I started a public art project called Work Harder|Hope Still Ahead. The body of work used construction, road sign paintings, and stickers as ways of communicating and redefining ideas about work and the working class.”
Bio: Raul Gonzalez is best known for his energetic and versatile approaches to painting, drawing, performance and dance. His abstract paintings and realistic drawings have been exhibited locally and nationally. Raul holds an MFA in Painting from UTSA and his artwork is part of public and private collections, such as the McNay Art Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, and Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin. Raul is originally from Houston but has been calling San Antonio home since 2012. On top of being a full-time artist, Raul is a stay-at-home daddy. His art can be regularly be seen at GrayDuck Gallery in Austin or at his at-home studio. His artwork is currently exhibiting at MACLA in San Jose, California, as part of their 6th Chicano/a Biennial.
Kristel Puente: “Chola”
Exhibition Statement: I have been a daydreamer all my life. I did not realize that there was a place me or for the countless daydreams until I found art. The Artist Lab Residency has allowed me the opportunity to continue the disambiguation of self, through my work. This work is the next step in the unraveling of childhood dreams, paying homage to the interwoven thread of strong women I have admired and where it has all come from. It is the continuation of The Disambiguation of the Introverted Megalomaniac, or the study of myself.
My obsessions are manifestations of what I have not yet been, or could not ever be. Collaborating with Agosto Cuellar over the last few years, we have embraced conceptual work. With the funds from Artist Lab, we were able to act on a vison we had over three years ago of screen printing photos we had done together on clothing. Thus, my childhood dream of being a designer and showing on the runway was made possible. Given this opportunity, we decided to honor the strong women who have influenced not only us, but San Antonio. Everything I do has meaning. Every piece, every nuance is thought out. So, we blended our love of San Antonio, Cholas, strong women, and finding our roots into a collection called Keep SA Lamé for Runway En La Calle. We had so much I decided to create my own fashion house to showcase the work, thus Casa De Chola was born.
Cholas and Fashion. Being drawn to both these subjects has required me to get to the root of where my concepts have come from. The aesthetic of Chanel and Chola blends flawlessly. Both represent strong women who follow their own path, come from small means, and use what is around them to create their iconic looks. Both are instantly recognizable, simple, and represent strength. Coco Chanel was a strong woman; she did things her way. Cholas are strong women who do things their way. Both have always been aesthetics that are untouchable and mesmerizing to me. I can never afford to walk into the Chanel Store and buy even a button, nor can I enter the world of being a Chola.
As a young girl, one of my favorite things was watching different fashion shows Sunday morning with my mother and brother. I grew up on old movies, I knew who Avedon was, Dior and Valentino. When I would watch fashion shows, I knew who the designers were. I had seen their fashions in the movies. It was an escape from my plain ordinary life. It was a fantasy. As I grew older, my creativity and daydreaming was displaced. I would only dream of being a designer. Later in life, having worked in a make-up career that was in high end retail (the closest I could get to the fashions I loved) I resented the focus on the monetary status symbols that customers were drawn to. I never loved it for the pretentiousness of it, but for the beauty of the work. It was living art. Walking into a Chanel boutique was like walking into a museum. I could look, but not touch, always on the other side. It was out of my reach, and wasted on those with the means to possess it.
When I was in high school, we were of little means. I attended an all girls private high school. I realize I had privilege. BUT we took the bus everywhere, we shopped at the thrift store for our clothes, we always watched our pennies. Both my brother and I grew up very happy, but our chosen schools always made us aware of what we did not have. When I took the bus everyday from school downtown to the Southside, I was harassed by men. Not day went by without comments about my uniform, lewd remarks and often unwelcomed touching. It made me feel weak, scared, and vulnerable. But a few blocks from home, the Cholas would get on the bus. They were strong, fashionable and men left them alone. And if men did harass them, they fought back. I was kinda scared to stare at them, but I thought they were beautiful, strong and confident. I loved them. Their fashion sent a message to everyone about who they were, just like my private school uniform did. But mine generated harassment, theirs generated respect. I wanted what they had, but it was out of my reach. I wanted to claim for our people this aesthetic from the commercial establishments that want to take our styles and profess them as their own. You see chola style from time to time on the runway or in videos. Fashion comes from the streets, the calles. So you take mine, I will take yours. Thus, a Chanel inspired Chola store.
The daydreamer in me makes alternate realities. So that is what I did, I made an alternate universe paying homage to the strength I have often felt I lack, and aspired to have. I wanted to honor the reinas of San Anto while they walk the calles for them to know, in the flesh, we see them, we know their worth. I made living Nichos for the living, to the living, to wear tribute to the ones we love and admire. That is what fashion is, we choose things to adorn us to tell our stories. We are judged by our art, what we create, and what we leave behind as communities. I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to create this space, to be a designer for a day, and to honor strength in all the of women who have influenced me, left me in awe, and sparked my creativity.
Bio: Kristel A Puente is a photographer and artist who works are resides in San Antonio, Texas. She specializes in commercial, runway, conceptual and ethnographic photography. Her work has grown over the last four years from focusing on commercial work, to evolving into ethnographic and concept photography. She currently sells the Alamo Series of ethnographic work in The Alamo Giftshop. Her conceptual artwork is mainly composed of several areas of interest which are history, civil rights issues, San Antonio culture, gender studies, feminism and cultural appropriation. She is Co-Curator of The Color of Blind, an art show for the visually impaired and special needs community. She looks to continue making a difference in her community using art and photography as a catalyst for change. She currently a part of The Artist Lab Residency with The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
Anrdrei Renteria: “En La Boca Del Diablo”
Supported in part by The Artist Foundation of San Antonio
Exhibition Statement: En La Boca Del Diablo, questions the historical practice of colonialism and the socio-economic experiment the U.S.-Mexico border has become. The acquisition of full/partial political control over a region, its occupation and exploitation is a practice that continues to this day—thru free trade agreements and other policies between governments that destroy the economic bases for a large group of its populations. Political bosses, cartels, and transnational companies are left to do as they please— creating cemeteries and killing fields out of the landscape. This phantasmagoric installation is inspired by the mountain ranges on each side of the Rio Grande in my home region of West Texas, a childhood game, and a local legend involving the devil himself.
Bio: Andrei Renteria was born in 1986 in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 and his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Sul Ross State University in 2010.
Having grown up in Presidio, Texas, Renteria’s work reflects his strong and longstanding interest in socio-political issues along the U.S./ Mexico border. Eager to expand his ideas, he has begun to investigate how painting, lithography, installations and assemblages might address and embody broader political issues (including torture and violence) beyond international borders.
Jose Villalobos: “De La Misma Piel”
Exhibition Statement: Born and raised in the border town of El Paso Texas, growing up, there was a constant challenge between the expectations of traditional Mexican customs and the “American” way of living. Coming from a strong religious background feeling unwanted came with the realization of being gay. Remarks of machismo ways were always present and made my true self dwindle. Coming out in my early 20’s I began to feel marginalized because it was difficult to associate myself as being gay and did not know how to process the lifestyle. While holding on to personal and traditional values, my current work demonstrates that through constant manipulation we obsess over self image and self identity. De La Misma Piel is a body of work that explores traditional “masculine” objects and idols that are glorified by most Mexican and Hispanic men. By softening the virility of these objects with subtle ambiguities their MACHO-ness becomes delicate. As a result the intent of my work is to create a sense of security and comfort while creating a feeling of distress which establishes a duality.
Bio: Jose Villalobos was born and raised in El Paso, TX. Eventually moving to San Antonio seeking to expand his education and knowledge he graduated with his BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Jose creates work that explores body image and self identity. By manipulating certain materials and quotidian objects he creates installations of a variety of mediums that comfort certain tensions. Jose has exhibited work in local galleries such as: Freight, Provenance, Bihl Haus Arts and at R Gallery. Currently Jose Villalobos resides in San Antonio with his husband and their fur child. Jose continues his practice as a working artist, since 2015 he has been an artist resident and co-director at Clamp Light Artist Studios and Gallery.