"Safe Pants for Clubbing" Performance, 2018 razor blades & hot pants. A woman inherits a set of paradoxes. She is called on by society to be attractive and yet, her desire to be sexy becomes a matter of personal safety. Every female who has attended a dance club has had a stranger aggressively touch her body as though stepping into the space was an agreement to be physically accosted. Hot pants covered in razor blades offer a solution. Or at least they offer an effective entrance into a discourse about the peculiar social norms in regard to women’s bodies as public space and rape culture.
"Safe Pants for Clubbing" Performance 2018, (still from performance) razor blades & hot pants The blades shimmer with the wearer’s every movement like the sequins of a go-go dancer. They are at once alluring and deadly. Approaching the wearer inappropriately will cause serious harm. These blades cover the back, however, there are no blades in the front. These are not chastity pants. A face-to-face encounter may not result in injury. It is at the wearer’s discretion. These pants realize the old trope and weaponize a woman’s sexuality. By doing so I have reversed the typical physical power dynamic.
"Grandma's House" 2016 This installation is a collaboration between my late namesake and I. After my Grandmother Magdalena passed away, my sister and I sat with the crochet pieces she left behind. We realized we were holding a life's work. If Grandma Lena was not feeding someone, her hands were busy connecting delicate loops into intricate textiles. Grandma tried to teach me her craft. I was not a patient child and failed to grasp her lessons. I built this structure, and covered it in the work of my abuelita's nimble fingers. It is a welcoming space where viewers are welcome to sit and contemplate, or help me in my redemptive quest of remembrance and learning.
"Diptychs Series" 2012 Since Brancusi the question of “what does the work rest on?” has been a daunting one for artists. In the meantime, the female body has remained an object and sub-object for display. For this series of chest worn artworks I was not content to use models as pedestals for my work without giving them agency in that work. I conversed with each model before the artwork they would wear was created. Each piece was then built from the conversation with the particular model wearing it. The women become collaborators rather than pedestals.
The woman’s body, particularly the breast, semiotically connotes nurturing, comfort, and home. I took full advantage of the breast as a signifier. By placing glass over the breast, I juxtapose its inherent notions of softness and security with material that is dangerous and furthermore, in shards represents discord and violence.
The final presentation of the "Diptych Series" subverted the convention of staring at a woman’s chest. The acknowledgement of the models in the formation and concept of the objects they wore gave them power to engage the viewer in dialogue about the artwork. Thus the power was shifted away from the gaze of the viewer to the presence of the model.
"Diptych Series" 2012 This set of diptychs most directly confronts the viewer. It reverses the gaze. It stares back. The piece is a direct response to a conversation about secrecy with the young dominatrix who wore them. While her vocation would suggest a devil-may-care attitude, she was not without self-imposed regulation regarding her body and how it could be viewed, as well as her lifestyle. When I asked her if the viewfinder covering her right-hand breast could offer an actual view of her nipple underneath, she protested. Instead, a viewer who came near enough to look inside the viewfinder saw a flesh colored swatch of leather that simply read, “No.”
"Quince Quince" 2013 performance I performed as a human piñata in front of a live audience. Viewers were invited to participate in this performance by taking the provided aluminum bat and striking my dress as I wore it and dangled from the ceiling. The complexity of the performance deepened with the interaction of the audience. In this instance no men stepped out from the crowd to swing the bat. The resulting images were of women aggressively hitting the body of another woman. The tension between an act of play and an act of violence hinged on the outcome. When the dress burst open candy, glitter hundreds of small plastic babies rained from the skirt. This sweeping gesture was my answer to two contrasting pressures felt at the beginning and end of female youth: that young motherhood is shameful and that aging past motherhood without children is shameful.
Astonishingly this dress survived the performance and has gone on to be exhibited not merely as artifact, but as a stand-alone art object. The bright colors evoke the joy of celebration. The materials are ephemeral and loose some color and joy with each outing. The form is both humorous and terrifying. A dress will always infer the female body whether she is present or not. The image of a dress that is made to be beaten in celebration is troubling.
"Receipt Series" 2007-2011 Over a four-year period I collected every single receipt from every purchase I made. I grouped them by year. After time passed I revisited the receipts and based on the identity I had attempted to construct for myself the year of those purchases, I designed an article of clothing out of actual purchase slips; a coat, a wedding dress, a business suit, a party dress. The resulting series is an intimate biographical sketch that speaks to a wider social narrative of consumerism as costume. While the country was in the throes of global financial crisis, I was asked to participate in guerilla art installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This exhibition coincided with one of the wettest, coldest days Los Angeles had seen in years. The inclement weather furthered the idea of purchased identity as false coverage.
The "Receipt Series" (detail) garments are made from my own saved receipts. Thus this work becomes an intimate narrative when the viewer draws close. The ephemeral nature of memory is also the subject, as time wears away the print on each piece. What I bought, when, and where are all presented. The reasons for the purchases, however, are ambiguous. The form hints at explanation, but much of the rationalization is left to the viewer. As time passes the narrative becomes more indistinct. Receipts are common objects. They are therefore highly relatable. Through this series I have witnessed that universality is in the minutia. The more intimately a work is constructed, the more universal it becomes.