Kresge Art Center
Michigan State University
October 22nd - November 2nd 2018
Many of the objects and imagery used to form the works in this exhibition are from members of the rural community in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where I lived between the ages of 3 and 18. They represent the material culture of predominantly white, middle-class, American households, the same type of household my half-siblings and I, a Mexican-American, were raised in. Through an act of recontextualization, the collected objects and images, along with other material signifiers, generate discourse about my often conflicted experiences of American semblance.
My research is influenced by the notion of “racial passing” or “passing”. They are terms dissected by scholar Marcia Alesan Dawkins in her book “Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity”. In it, Dawkins describes passing as “the fact of being accepted, or representing oneself successfully as, a member of a different group.” As someone whose appearance and name is often misjudged with false stereotypes of Mexican-American history, the notion of passing has left me wondering how duping becomes a tool to place an individual within or against American culture or lingering somewhere between it and others. At the same time I question how we have been duped to believe in stereotypes through the objects we consume.
Though the artworks in this exhibition hold various functions, each piece participates in a larger narrative sharing my intent to create nuanced or obvious tension about an authentic vs inauthentic representation of belonging and belongings. In doing so, I challenge our biases and preconceptions to determine whether our assumptions are placing us at risk of being duped.