A CULTURAL NARRATIVE
Natalia Arbelaez, April D. Felipe and Beth Lo
September 8, 2018 - September 29, 2018
I was born in Miami, Florida but shortly after my birth I immigrated to my motherís country of Colombia, Medellin. I would return to the states at the age of four and assimilate quickly learning English and forgetting Spanish within a month. Throughout my life, I have always questioned my identity and have felt a sense of loss.
With creating work, I could fill that loss and I have been able to reconnect with my heritage. My work serves as a bridge to research my history and culture while aiming to preserve. I look to the history of Latin American and the Amerindian people; I work with how these identities are lost through conquest, migration, and time, gained through family, culture, exploration, and passed down through tradition and genetic memory. I use these influences to contribute to a contemporary dialogue while simultaneously continuing the work of my ancestors. There has been so much loss and stigma of these communities that it is important to me that my work celebrates and honors them.
The body plays an essential role in my work as it has a memory to it and memory extends itself to my ideas of the body. In my process of referencing the body, I have forgone the use of an actual and specific body. Because of this, I can use the memory of my own body, the body of my family, and ancestors to extend my memories to places beyond the body. In creating more of an essence of the body and not a likeness I am able to visit such personal and painful narratives that I find hard to confront.
April D Felipe
Growing up, people begin to deal with the idea of identity, not just who we are but how we place ourselves within groups beyond our families. For me, this placing became a cultural question. As my parents were from the Caribbean, I was connected to multiple cultural groups. However having grown up here in America and not fitting the visual stereotypes of my heritage, I never felt like I truly belonged to any of those cultures. I became aware that the way I presented layers of my past could be used to validate my desired place within these groups. Reflecting on my struggle, I began to question the way we construct personal history in service to our desire for belonging. In this work the color is driven by historical floor patterns from the Caribbean.These faux tile mosaics are a product of colonialism, used as a way to showcase ones European lineage while distancing from ones African and Native lineage.However when we look at the history of these tile patterns it is reveled they are derivative Moroccan tiles. I am drawn to the fact while striving toward colonial Ideals these tiles are actually representative of our African histories.
My work in ceramics and mixed media collage revolves primarily around issues of family and my Asian-American background. Cultural marginality and blending, tradition vs. Westernization, language and translation are key elements in my work. Since the birth of my son in 1987, I have been drawing inspiration from major events in my familyís history, the day-to- day challenges of parenting, and my own childhood memories of being raised in a minority culture in the United States. I use the image of a child as a symbol of innocence, potential and vulnerability.