The space that family inhabits in our experience is seemingly private, with memories that only a select few are able to understand. These memories—joyful, humorous, traumatic, and painful— all exist within the context of a home and its memories, are often written over the various objects in that home. My practice serves as an exercise in accessing and manipulating memories, so I am interested in the objects that can serve as the vessels for memory, whether we want them to or not. I am interested in how these objects function as symbols of veneration through photography, and how the act of taking a photograph can be seen as venerative gesture itself.  My work addresses the tensions of identity by attempting to unravel the complexities of family life through photographing the objects of my own home life.. I am increasingly drawn to objects, photographs, and imagery that have an association with the specific domesticity and my upbringing while simultaneously holding a queer aesthetic. These can be as simply related to decoration as the decorative panels of a quilt, or as complexly related as the paneling on the garage walls of my childhood home. The imagery in my work spans that of my Mexican-American identity, the low level persistence of Catholicism in my life, and my queer identity.

 

Activating objects of familial memory through photography in conversation with my Mexican-American, Catholic, and queer identities as well as with my experience inhabiting private spaces creates a tension between shared and private visual identities that may seem as if they cannot always coexist. Through my imagery, I aim to create a pattern of visibility through color, ornament, and kitsch that complicates the narrative of familial histories. I am aware of the histories that objects carry with them, often for decades or even centuries. Distance in both time and space has served as my primary motivator for creating. Being so far removed from my place of origin and from my family has also impacted the ways in which I make associations with my surroundings. It seems that constantly I am in a flux of permanence and impermanence with my surroundings--and like most children of immigrants I experience a contingent and divided identity. In re-contextualizing the objects I photograph, I am attempting to recreate but at the same time also “make foreign” the spaces they once belonged to, just as my identity is recontextualized and both normalized and is also still foreign. Therefore, I use familiar objects, but often employ tactics such as overlaying images with brilliant color and pattern because of their historical associations with “primitivism”, otherness, and the similarities between queer aesthetics and Mexican kitsch. These specific histories propel me to work - to continue making in order to insert myself within this current space and place and ultimately create an alternative history for myself.

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