Welcome to session #2 of the online space Migratory Times, “Silhouettes.”
Silhouettes are made by amateurs, artists, alike, and even cast as a shadow in the everyday. A silhouette is a shadow, profile, miniature cuttings, shadow portrait, illuminating a relationship between light and dark. Utilized by artists and activists alike, the mobilization of the silhouette in the visual has, as described by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the capability to image race and “otherness.” Some silhouettes are iconic – where the relationship between the light and dark have captured local and global imaginaries. Kara Walker’s paper silhouettes tell a story of the US south as one shaped by violence, both sexual and racial. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, an association formed in the 1970s, drew awareness to the disappearances occurring during the Argentinian dictatorship (1976 – 1983). Through shadows, the place with light and dark, outlines, silhouettes speak. As this session illuminates, silhouettes manifest in intentional and unintentional actions by artists, community members, scholars, and producers. The image that is created through the interplay and production of light and dark, speaks to coloniality and oppression. As described by Maria Lugones, “Given the coloniality of power, I think we can also say that having a dark and a light side is characteristic of the co-construction of the coloniality of power and the colonial/modern gender system” (2007).
This session includes events that occurred since 2017. It includes a Salon of the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects with Pedro Pablo Gomez, that occurred in March 2017 – transcripts and audio of the salon are featured. This session also features pedagogical conversation, a Salon with the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects – Silhouettes: Migration, (Un)Documented, and Pedagogies, where IiS members Fukushima and Benfield facilitated discussions surrounding the work of Sonia Guiñansaca and artist and muralist Ruby Chacón, and invited Crystal Baik, Jose Manuel Cortez, Cindy Cruz, Marie Sarita Gaytan and Juan Herrera. Silhouettes include the contributions of the artist Kakyoung Lee and her work from the “Barbed Wire Series” which consists of a series of prints, multi-channel moving-image installation, and a cat’s cradle shadow installation. Stills from Kiri Dalena’s Arrays of Evidence Installation, are showcased, in which this project was also contributor to the Migratory Times Project. Also included are images and the video, “Christmas in our Hearts” by RESBAK (RESpond and Break the silence Against the Killings), a collective of artists, media practitioners, and cultural workers that unite to condemn in the strongest possible terms the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs. In the Spirit of Itzpaplotl, Venceremos, introduces a feminist collaboration between artist and painter, Ruby Chacón, photographs by Flor Olivo, and feminist scholarly research by Dr. Sonya Alemán. Additionally, featured video and images produced through “Women in Migration” (2017) which consisted of a collaboration between the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects (IiS) with the University of Utah Museum of Fine Arts A.C.M.E. session featuring IiS members Dalida Maria Benfield, Damali Abrams, and Annie Isabel Fukushima, and collaborations with UMFA Jorge Rojas and Emily Izzo and Utah community members Romeo Jackson, Maria, Yehemy, Veronica, Alejandra, Ashley, Jean, Alex, Akiva, Kylee, Andrew, and Christina. Therefore, Silhouettes is an invitation to scholars, artists, visual producers, the everyday person, to submit works that speak to the coloniality and oppression through the silhouette.
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Session #2: Silhouettes
In the Spirit of Itzpaplotl, Venceremos
This exhibit highlights feminine leadership exerted by Chicana editors of the newspaper “Venceremos,” established at the University of Utah in 1993. The series of photographs and paintings portray the first Chicana editor and her predecessors, whose strength and perseverance carried the paper from 2008 to present, and after its brief hiatus from 2001-2007. We define their driving force through the reclaiming of Itzpapalotl. Itzpapalotl Spirit as we have named this feminine energy “is grounded in an indigenous worldview that reveres women as fierce protectors of the domains that produce life, ideas, and knowledge.” (Aleman and Olivo) Archived issues can be found: http://venceremosutah.com/publications/archived-issues/
Through a collaborative practice this exhibit intertwines paintings by Ruby Chacón, photographs by Flor Olivo, and feminist scholarly research by Dr. Sonya Alemán and Flor Olivo. We are committed to work that isn’t in competition with each other, rather in conversation. Process is the most meaningful part when working collaboratively, we work in this way to push back on standard processes that academic and “higher”art spaces often regulate. We engage in producing quality work, not just for our own benefit but for the greater good of our intersecting communities.
Our intention is to ensure that forms of storytelling and art making produce life-affirming realizations and continue to uplift our communities. By seeking to create spaces of belonging, shaped by shared histories of marginality and resistance, the images tell a story of conviction. In our own ancestry we continue to retell herstories of feminine leadership, specifically Chicana Feminist leadership, that have enabled spaces of creativity and that have birthed ideas, art and knowledge amongst systems of oppression.
Ruby Chacón co founded Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts (MICA), the first gallery of it’s kind in Utah. She has been published in books, magazines, calendars, as well as covers for academic books. Her most recent book cover is: “Transforming Educational Pathways for Chicano/a Students” by authors Dolores Delgado Bernal and Enrique Aleman, Teachers College Press. Her numerous awards include: Utah Governor’s Mansion Award for visual arts, Salt Lake City Mayor’s Award for Visual Arts, Humanitarian Award, Distinguished Alumni, and Utah’s 15 most influential artists. Chacón moved to Sacramento in 2013. Her Sacramento public art projects include: Cesar Chavez Intermediate outdoor mural, Utility box designs in the Alkalai Flats and Meadowview neighborhoods, and upcoming: a design for the light rail and community mural on 2nd Avenue in Oak Park. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChicanaArtRubyChacon/
Flor Olivo is a local SLC photographer and communication professional/instructor. She has documented hundreds of events in Salt Lake City, taken photographs used for local political campaigns, marketing, and news organizations. She has created several independent short films for local community organizations and higher-ed institutions. Her images and short films have been published independently but also through the Venceremos Newspaper, West View Community Newspaper, and El Periodico de Utah for which she has served as a reporter, photographer and later Managing Editor and/or Editor-in-Chief. Flor also teaches courses at the U of U Gender Studies Department and at Salt Lake Community College. Her most recent research publication: “Guided by the Itzpapalotl Spirit: Chicana Editors practice a form of spiritual activism” by Aleman and Olivo was accepted by the Frontiers scholarly journal. Contact: email@example.com or flawurmedia.com