The Bay Area Body
BY Advocate.com Editors
June 06 2014 4:33 AM ET
Eli (MTF), 2012
Oil on canvas
40” x 30”
Artist statement: Much of my work utilizes paint to examine concepts pertaining to identity and how particular elements manifest visually. I have been exploring how through studying groups of people I might be able to create a visual representation of an idea or word within the study of identity. Using subject material of the figure, I explore on how intentionally selecting and combining imagery creates a sociological landscape that is built from particular aspects of a group or individual identity.
My interest in gender identity began through feminist studies and theories from such great minds as bell hooks and Simone de Beauvoir with increased appreciation of the body from Maurice Merleau‐Ponty. I developed great interest in self-identification, social group construction, and the theory of “the other”. Within the feminist dialogue of gender roles and gender construction I began reading about the contemporary idea of the gender spectrum.
Subsequently, I completed a series that aimed to capture the shift between genders as the central slice of this fluid spectrum: using an advertisement on Craigslist, I began painting individuals who identify as transgender. This work is important to me as I have people in my life who fall at different points of the gender spectrum and I intend for this work to broaden the viewer’s perspective on the fluidity of gender.
The last two paintings submitted consider gesture in the history of portraiture utilizing closed eyes. The work highlights the voyeuristic nature of painting and the subject/object relationship of the people in paintings and images.
St. Sebastian’s Sacred Heart, 2013
diptych, oil on linen, mixed media, beads, paper
38” x 44”
Artist statement: My approach to the studio and painting comes from an intuitive relationship I develop with the people that surround me, along with my Spiritual beliefs, environment, and memories from the perspective of a Latino gay man. My art encompass oil paintings and mixed media works inspired by supernatural forces influenced by Afro-Cuban religions and spirituality, more specifically the Santeria religion, as well as culturally dominant fantasies about masculinity and sexuality. Santeria or Orishá worship…teaches gay people how to recognize the divine within himself or herself, which is an important building block to achieving self-esteem. In Latin religious practices, Santeria is one of the few avenues available to gay men, women, and heterosexual women, in which they could achieve a measure of real power and meaningful roles.
In my work, the juxtaposition of the painted male figure to the dark Shadow plays a major factor not only in the composition and structure of the painting but also symbolically; there exists an interaction of the sacred and the secular, gender ambiguity and gender manipulation. In the Shadow, I use ideograms found in indigenous religions as an inspiration for personal and spiritual transformation. The painted male figures are at times androgynous: the masculine and feminine are sometimes reflected so completely in the body of the figures, it’s as if they have two Spirits.
Dirting Indianapolis, 2012
Still from social action
Artist statement: This was a social action in Indianapolis, IN. I covered myself with dirt and walked throughout downtown Indianapolis, Indiana for about an hour. This was the first piece where I use dirt as my medium. By covering myself with dirt, I became visible to every person who came across my path, at the same time dirt erased all the stereotypes and labels that are often attached to me. It erased my gender and my ethnicity. I became just a human, or maybe even an object allowing people to relate to me.
Performance: “I am just a piece of brown shit in this capitalist society”, (Social action or video). This is my newest piece. It was a social action in the mission district in San Francisco, CA. I covered myself with dirt on Mission and 16th St. I laid on the floor covered on dirt. People surrounded me, talk about me, or just observed me. Then, I proceeded to walk around the mission area for about one hour. I would like to do this same action in a gallery setting, “Body Politic/s” will be perfect for this particular piece since I am addressing multiple issues of the body and power dynamics.