Día De Los Muertos Individuales

October 29, 2010 § 1 Comment

Check out the Día De Los Muertos art project I designed for Spanglish Baby, a wonderful blog dedicated to raising bicultural and bilingual children.

I wanted to create a project that would inspire family togetherness, cross-generational dialogue, and communal interaction. A project where the process through which the work was produced, becomes an integral part of of the work itself.

So, I came up with Día De Los Muertos Individuales- functional collaged placemats, modeled after altares, that can be used inside and outside.  The image below is of the Individual I made in honor of my abuelita.

Día De Los Muertos Individual

Visit the project on Spanglish Baby and on YouTube.  And if you decide to make an Individual, PLEASE send me pics!  I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

Feliz Día De Los Muertos!
xo

Maya

Creating Resistance: Using the Arts in Challenging Racial Ideologies

September 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am so excited to announce that on November 5th 2010, I will be presenting at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies at DePaul University in Chicago.

Creating Resistance: Using the Arts in Challenging Racial Ideologies
A Roundtable Discussion Moderated by Laura Kina with Alejandro T. Acierto, Maya Escobar, Tina Ramirez, and Jonathan Reinert
DePaul University Student Center |  11/5/2010 |  10:15 am

CONFERENCE IS FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

This roundtable focuses on the use of the arts as a strategy to discuss, challenge, and confront ideologies of race and mixed-heritage identities. The panelists involved – each of whom work in different artistic fields – will present their work either via performance or through a discussion of their current work and the process that helped produce such work. The discussion will highlight how identifications of mixed heritage have integrated, collided, or been negotiated within and through their work while also placing their work within the complex relationship between art, activism, and organizing. Additionally, the panelists will address how their creative projects have been used strategically within specific contexts while also reflecting upon the reception of their work among the public. Likewise, they will address the relevance and necessity of this type of work within the “multiracial/post-racial” framework and how their work speaks to those issues to challenge racial expectations and stereotypes.

As experienced cultural producers of various mediums, the panelists will also open up a forum for discussion about their own experience with specific art forms and how those mediums have presented various challenges, limitations, and problems in addressing ideologies of race. The audience will be encouraged to participate in the discussions by contributing their own experiences of using the arts critically and strategically as well as responding to the panelist’s remarks and performances.


Multiple identities align in Behind The Scenes Acciones Plasticas プリクラ

CREATIVE RESISTANCE ROUNDTABLE BIOS

LAURA KINA
Laura Kina is an artist, independent curator, and scholar whose research focuses on Asian American art and critical mixed race studies. She is an Associate Professor of Art, Media and Design, Vincent de Paul Professor, and Director of Asian American Studies at DePaul University. She is a 2009-2010 DePaul University Humanities Fellow. She earned her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she studied under noted painters Kerry James Marshall and Phyllis Bramson, and she earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Born in Riverside, California and raised in Poulsbo, WA, the artist currently lives and works in Chicago, IL with her husband, Mitch, and their daughter, Midori, and her stepdaughter, Ariel. Her work has shown internationally is represented in Miami, FL by Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts.

ALEJANDRO T. ACIERTO
Alejandro T. Acierto is an active collaborative musician, improviser, composer and sound artist whose innovative work in contemporary music and performance has led Time-Out New York to call him a “maverick of new music”. His creative output embraces an ambiguous aesthetic that integrates music, sound, performance art, and installation based on historical narratives and his own experience as a third and fourth generation Mexican Filipino American. He recently won the Sidney and Mary Kleinman Prize in Composition and was granted a composers’ residency fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. His work has also been featured by Trifecta Publishing, a curated collection of multimedia works by diverse artists.

Acierto holds a Masters’ degree in Contemporary Performance from Manhattan School of Music and received his Bachelors’ degree in clarinet performance and composition with a minor in Asian American Studies from DePaul University. He has performed and presented his work in Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and across the US. He is a founding member of the New York-based ai ensemble and Chicago-based chamber orchestra ensemble dal niente and is currently freelancing in New York City.

MAYA ESCOBAR
Maya Escobar a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. She uses the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. She performs multiple identities, sampling widely from online representations of existing cultural discourses. Her identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs she keeps, the visual and textual links she posts, the books, articles, and blog posts she cites, the public comments she leaves, and the groups she joins.

Escobar received her MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, United States, Germany, Venezuela and Chile.

TINA RAMIREZ
Tina Ramirez is a Filipino Colombian writer, educator and youth organizer, claiming roots as a country mouse and a city mouse (Kansas-born, Chicago-bred). She has co-developed curriculum with youth spaces such as YAWP! (Young Asians With Power!) and MCYP (Multi-Cultural Youth Project), using creative self-expression as a vehicle to explore identity politics and community-based issues. She was a core organizer with Kitchen Poems, an Asian Pacific American writing workshop, and currently serves on the board for the Leadership Center for Asian Pacific Americans. She has self-published two chapbooks and performed at various venues, including Free Street Theater, Judson Memorial Church, and Insight Arts.

Tina received a B.A. in Literary Studies and Creative Writing from Beloit College and an A.M. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration with a focus on youth development, nonprofit administration and education policy. She currently works with community schools in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.

JONATHAN REINERT
Jonathan Reinert was born in Tuguegarao, Philippines. At three and half years of age, he was adopted into a German American family in 1987. Jonathan lived in Kirkwood, Missouri for 15 years before leaving to attend college in Chicago where he graduated from DePaul University with a B.A. in Art and Art History and a concentration in painting and drawing. Inspired by the work of Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, Jonathan began experimenting with video performance art toward the end of his college career. His debut performance, “Twenty Twinkies,” was a surprising success and compelled him to pursue a career in video production and documentary filmmaking.

Jonathan has recently finished his studies as graduate student in Asian American Studies at UCLA. His master’s thesis film, Left on Lockett Lane, is an autobiographical work which examines his experiences growing up in the Midwest as an Asian adoptee and was awarded official selection in 2010 Los Angeles Visual Communications Asian Pacific Film Festival. Jonathan will spend the remainder of the year submitting Left on Lockett Lane to various film festivals across the country and is in the process of applying to film schools for the fall of 2011.

Updating About Me

July 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

Maya Escobar is a conceptual identity artist.

Maya Escobar is a conceptual identity artist

deconstructing the artist (myself), alongside the monument, alongside the monument’s informational text…

______________________________

SELECTED STATEMENTS

______________________________

Bio for About Page 2010:

Maya Escobar is a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. She uses the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. She performs multiple identities, sampling widely from online representations of existing cultural discourses. Her identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs she keeps, the visual and textual links she posts, the books, articles, and blog posts she cites, the public comments she leaves, and the groups she joins.

Escobar received her MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, United States, Germany, Venezuela, and Chile.

Twitter Bio for @Maya_Ate_This 2010:

I am a 2nd generation Latina artist, nutrition buff, and fitness enthusiast. Here, I’ll be tweeting what I am eating as well as sharing beauty and fitness tips.

Artista Disléxica Del Internet pt 1 of audition video for Reality TV Show on Discovery En Español 2010:

Short Bio for Acciones Plásticasプリクラ 2009:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan-Jewish digital media and performance artist, currently living in St. Louis. Her work addresses issues of cultural hybridity, gender, placelessness, and the construction of identity.

Bio for Conney Conference on Jewish Identity 2009:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan Jewish digital media and performance artist. She received a BFA with an emphasis in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently completing her MFA at Washington University in St. Louis. She can usually be found on the web blogging, tweeting, or youtubing. Escobar also serves as the online art editor for Zeek: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Culture. She has taught, performed and exhibited work in Germany, Spain, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the United States.

About Me for Maya E. on Jewish Wedding Network (2009):

I have always lived between multiple worlds, I come from a Guatemalan Jewish American family of activists and educators. The planning of my wedding is like most things other things we do, a familiar and communal affair. In addition to the Bosa Nova band that will perform, my fiancee’s band rock band Cavalry will be covering various Jewish tunes such as hava negilah and more.

Breaking Down the Elephant Blog Post 2009:

Some people think that I am the true representation of the elephant.
It is true I am an elephant, but not the only elephant.
I try to break up the conception of being the only elephant.
Some people see a small portion of my work and think it is the whole- the representative elephant.
Others understand that each piece connects to another piece and that individually they are only fragments.
When breaking the elephant up into pieces, information slips in through the cracks.
People also respond to this new information- creating a bigger more amorphous elephant.
The amorphous elephant is broken up again and again, so that it is relevant to new individuals new experiences…

Manifesto for MFA Thesis Exhibition Catalog 2009:

As an artist and an individual, I am in constant conversation with the values transposed through multiculturalism. I seek to challenge notions of sameness, unity, and political correctness with pieces that affirm a sense of community for some, while paradoxically alienating others.

Major influxes in international travel, technological advances, immigration, adoption, and intermarriage are causing the borders and boundaries between countries to merge together at an increasingly rapid pace. The imagined spaces of individual cultures are no longer autonomous.

Therefore it is with a conscious move that I, and many colleagues and contemporaries, unapologetically go forward, breaking through traditional conceptions of art and artistic practice. No longer tied down to medium-specific practices, we produce work derivative of a multitude of discourses. The works that we produce, however, are distinct from those in the  fields that our work represents. We are concerned with the past, but we will not allow the past  to solely delineate the future. We hope to form a new definition of artistic practice that will include our constantly shifting environment.

Short Web Bio for Stumble Upon 2008:

MFA Candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. Current art/research centers around mental constructions of space and the social and political implications that result from these imagined boundaries. On this blog I share my random thoughts on hybridity, transnational and transcultural identities, liberal multiculturalism, critical pedagogy, feminist theory, latinidad, jewish life in america, youth culture…

Bio for Acciones Plásticas at the Bruno David Gallery 2007:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan Jewish interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a BFA with an emphasis in Art Education. She has taught, performed and exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the United States.  Currently, Escobar is pursuing a MFA in Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

Bio for Camp JRF 2007:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan Jewish interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is currently completing her degree in Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sharing her non-traditional approach to exploring Jewish identity, Maya will expose campers to a wide variety of contemporary artists, artistic mediums and processes. Campers will have the opportunity to work both independently and as a collective, to produce work that inspires and participates in ongoing personal and communal dialogue.

Artist Statement 2006:

Through the performance of actual and fictitious moments of my life, I explore my personal identity as the daughter of a Guatemalan father and Jewish mother.  I compare the complexities of projected societal, cultural, and gender-determined roles to the lived experiences of Latina and Jewish women in our contemporary American culture. My work translates ongoing anthropological and sociological investigation into accessible narrative forms, incorporating technical skills in multiple mediums. As a commentary to the objectification and exoticization of otherness that I have personally experienced, I reclaim ownership of myself; I transform my body as well my “self” into an object used within the performed ritual, which is then documented through analog and digital photo, video and collage.

take a picture of me for my myspace

May 11, 2009 § 2 Comments

In October of 2006 my rabbi started blogging. While trying to comment on one of his posts, I accidentally registered my own blog. Within hours of posting a comment, my name began appearing in Google searches. I was now linked to the post I had commented on, previous posts my rabbi had written, comments left by other users and the posts they had written elsewhere within the blogosphere. The rapidity with which I was branded, not only by my own online activity, but also by the online activity of others, seemed incomprehensible.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/140/407330068_cef67d7d48.jpg?v=0

I thought about this phenomenon in relationship to, the images that my friends and I had posted on Myspace throughout that year. I unknowingly went from being slightly annoyed and simultaneously amused by the phrase “take a picture of me for my Myspace”, to it becoming completely natural and almost organic to document every moment, every outing, every time my friends and I put on make up, and to take pictures for Myspace. I saw this behavior even further exaggerated in the high school students I was student teaching. Their conversations were dominated with events that had transpired on Myspace, and when they were not talking about Myspace they were taking pictures for Myspace.

When we talked about the factors that contributed to the construction of their individual and collective identities, my students were quick to bring up their style of dress, group of friends, the neighborhood they lived in, and the way they spoke. Yet not a single student referenced their online activity, the pictures they posted, the groups they joined, the comments they left on each others pages. I wondered why it was, that they were so aware of and adept at reflecting upon their experiences in the material offline world, but failed to mention the social network that played such a major role in their day-to-day lives.

DECONSTRUCTING PERSONAL IDENTITY

the chach

(today) I am referring to myself as a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor.  I create and (concurrently) perform multiple online identities, by sampling from different representations of existing cultural discourses. I fragment my personal experiences and invite  others to join in, and modify and regroup those fragments. By doing this I hope to share the process through which I  deconstruct and reconstruct my individual conception of self, so that others can do the same in their lives.

In the series Acciones Plásticas I performed representations of five constructed characters: a religious Jewish woman, a spoiled Jewish girl, a ghetto Latina, a sexy Latina professor, and a Mayan woman. I created low quality YouTube video blogs for four of the characters, the Mayan woman did not have a video, as she would not have had access to YouTube technologies. The videos were strategically placed on popular social networking sites, including YouTube and MySpace. The layout of YouTube contextualized the videos and framed them with user comments and similarly tagged user content. Jewish Girls was picked up by a popular left-wing Jewish blogging site Jewschool, and soon entered the Jewish Blogosphere where it was referred to as the JAP. This repositioning shifted the focus from the portrayal of multiple interwoven identities to a depiction of the Jewish American Princess. The JAP became how people knew my work, validating me while simultaneously conflating my identity with that of this particular character.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3362/3521552366_98c65eccfe.jpg?v=0

One of the strategies that I employed to counteract idea of “me as The JAP was to group videos from the series  Acciones Plásticas together with three other Youtube videos in a video reel of my work. The first video in the reel,  el es frida kahlo is me dressed as Frida Kahlo where I violently scream I am Frida Kahlo! In second video Be Wife, I wear a bright red bikini top in front of an image of a Mayan temple in Tikal. Traditional Guatemalan marimba music plays in the background, while red text scrolls across the top reading Guatemala’s finest export. The third video Que Sencilla, features me as a little girl, who is being coaxed by an off-camera male voice to perform a dance for the camera.

Someone who is expecting to see a Jewish American Princess, is instead greeted with an enragedel es frida kahlo Latina artist, trying to fight the stigma of being associated with Frida Kahlo. My inclusion of these additional videos was to show the multidimensionality of the five characters initially presented in Acciones Plásticas. The Mayan women does not have her own YouTube video, but with the addition of the Be Wife video, her absence is felt even greater. The face of Guatemala in these videos, is the chest of a mail order bride. Another example can be seen within the four original videos themselves. With the grouping of the ghetto latina with the sexy latina professor, vast cultural and class difference can be seen between the two representations of Latina women. Put together with el es frida kahlo and Be Wife, there are suddenly five Latina performers all acting on one stage.

Sarah Jones on TED 2 loves combined

April 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

My friend Jamie Aguirre  who you can visit here and here posted this wonderful  Sarah Jones video for TED on my facebook page.

Jones asks to what extent do we self construct?

I feel like a little kid in a candy store, really, I do.

Here is another Sarah Jones video.

Have I mentioned how amazing I think she is?

Thanks Jamie!

breaking down the elephant

April 2, 2009 § 2 Comments

Ruth at the writing center (who somehow amazingly manages my artistic craziness and dyslexia) helped me come up with this metaphor for my work, based on the story of the elephant and the blind men.

I think it might become my artist statement.

********************************************

Some people think that I am the true representation of the elephant.

It is true I am an elephant, but not the only elephant.

I try to break up the conception of being the only elephant.

Some people see a small portion of my work and think it is the whole- the representative elephant.

Others understand that each piece connects to another piece and that individually they are only fragments.

When breaking the elephant up into pieces, information slips in through the cracks.

People also respond to this new information- creating a bigger more amorphous elephant.

The amorphous elephant is broken up again and again, so that it is relevant to new individuals new experiences…

project map

a) accionesplasticas.com
b) mayatalk.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/obsessed-with-frida-kahlo/
c) thewayismadebywalking.com/
d) www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5sFV2xmpfA
e) berlinseruv.com
f) www.youtube.com/watch?v=359HwupsY1s
g) mayaescobar.com

The Cuentos Foundation

February 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

I just submitted the work of Michele Feder-Nadoff, to the magazine I work for Zeek. Michele is a dear friend and a phenomenal artist, activist and educator. I thought it would be a good idea to share some information about Michele and to promote her organization the cuentos foundation.

Artistic Director, Michele Feder-Nadoff, who is Jewish, founded Cuentos in 1998 with the humanist vision and commitment to tikkun haolam, a Jewish principal expressing each person’s responsibility to play a part in “healing the world.” Cuentos members believe art is a transformative catalyst for effecting positive social change. Our work combats prejudice and discrimination through artistic and educational intergenerational projects and programs promoting mutual understanding.

The abundance of cultural wealth living doorstep to doorstep in our neighborhoods provide all of us an opportunity to engage with and learn about each others’ backgrounds. What connects us and how can live in peace together, connected by mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures from around the globe?

 

CUENTOS PROGRAM OBJECTIVES:

To design programs that promote strong personal and cultural identity, as well as cultivate the ability to positively engage and communicate across cultures. We believe these are the keys for empowering youth, families, and communities with the capacity for participating in positive social change and mutual understanding.

To provide reciprocal learning/ educating of artistic strategies and art-making practices, techniques, traditions, such as copper-smithing, poetry writing & publishing, performance, curating.

To provide a safe, nurturing, extremely creative environment to test out ideas, performance, theater, music, a poem, or an exhibition idea in Cuentos’ storefront windows or space.

To empower through collective practices: A place to collaborate with others from similar and different backgrounds.

To make cross-cultural links and networks between groups.

To use art across disciplines to give projects a holistic and contextualized vision.

To develop the acquisition of transferable skills and knowledge: artistic, social, and cultural.

To provide an opportunity to express differences in cultural heritage, history, and traditions.

To act as an incubator for creating community connections and fellowship.

check out their new book: Ritmo de Fuego

Ritmo del Fuego / Rhythm of Fire is a unique achievement, telling the story of the deep-seated copperworking tradition of Santa Clara del Cobre, an ancient community in the forested mountains of Michoacán, Mexico. What is often seen as “folk art” is shown to stem from early workshops established in Michoacán during the 8th-9th centuries AD, by coastal traders and artisans from the Andean Region of South America. Since then, the manufactures have included utilitarian and ornamental objects. Many have been recovered at archaeological sites, most notably from the 15th century Tarascan Kingdom. Others embrace forms of Spanish origin after the 16th century conquest. Today in the expanding international market, Santa Clara copperwares include a wide range of sophisticated decorative vases, pitchers, trays, dinner wares and related forms. A vital community has evolved with this ongoing tradition, portrayed with affection and care by the project organizer Michele Feder-Nadoff, and the many other authors in this remarkable, well written contribution to the cultural history of the Americas.

click here to purchase

Bitch Magazine

December 20, 2007 § 3 Comments

Acciones Plásticas was discussed in current issue of Bitch Magazine Lost and Found #38. The article is entitled The Princess Diaries: In an Age of Ostentation the J.A.P. is Back written by Julia Appel, a rabbinical student at Hebrew College.

To view the full article (pdf version) click here

bitch

One blogger on Jewschool questioned the artistic success of a new piece by a performance artist named Maya Escobar entitled Acciones Plasticas (Plastic Dolls), in which the artist impersonates in short video segments various stereotypes that make up her identity. Her send-up of the J.A.P. was familiar to me from my years spent in a heavily Jewish, upper-middle-class suburb of Boston. Escobar’s J.A.P. flips her straight dark hair and fiddles with her silver jewelry as she talks insipidly about her high-school popularity and rejection of male suitors. The blogger wrote by way of illustration, “She…nails the J.A.P. with a monologue so infuriatingly vapid and unaware it’s as excruciating as the real-life experience.”

Bitch Magazine Photo

[...]Using the Jewish American Princess in a deadpan manner can result in a sophisticated social critique that reveals how ridiculous the stereotype itself. The key is absurdity: Take Sarah Silverman, who frequently conjures the J.A.P. in her comedy, with mixed results [...] Maya Escobar’s piece also falls in this category: by contextualizing the character in her video as a “doll” she reveals how ridiculous it is to take the character seriously.

But what about the less-successful attempts at deploying the term? The reason “J.A. P.” is ripe for reclamation is because it stands at the border between resonantly hateful and outdated. Although not as widely used as it once was, it still packs a punch. Therefore, if the context is not skillfully executed, the attempt serves not to interrogate or reclaim, but rather only to perpetuate the myth[...]

Cultural Identity Dialog Exchange

November 16, 2007 § 1 Comment

Below are selected excerpts from a grant proposal that I recently submitted to Washington University, for a cultural identity dialog exchange between Guatemalan Youth living within the diaspora and those living in Guatemala.

Please contact me if you are interested in collaborating, participating (either yourself or your child) and funders.

Within most North American contexts I am inevitably the only Guatemalan representative. As a child I yearned for this paternal classification. I wanted desperately to be a Guatemalan. However, upon entering academia I immediately became the Guatemalan. As an artist, this categorization places me in the awkward position of being unable to produce work without feeling and seeming inauthentic, voyeuristic, and exploitative.

In order to directly confront these insecurities and consequential perceptions, I will expose myself to the very environment where I feel most uncomfortable: Guatemala. I will present myself exactly as I do in the United States with the self-imposed title: Guatemalan Jewish Interdisciplinary Artist and Educator. Working as a researcher, artist, educator, student, performer and public speaker I will interact with all of the communities represented by the aforementioned title.

[...]In this lesson, students will critically analyze the ways in which Guatemalans have been depicted both historically and presently. They will look at national and international examples of these depictions, produced by: historians, anthropologists, sociologists, the media, and artists. Considering the mediums that have been utilized in these depictions (newspapers, magazines, history books, movies, paintings, the internet, etc.), and their availability to the general public, students will evaluate the impact of these depictions on the formation of their personal identity.

Students will then discuss their feelings towards Guatemalan youth living in the US, who have inevitably been equally (in not more so) effected by these depictions. They will then analyze the specific elements these depictions falsely portray or leave unsaid, thus identifying the important things they want Guatemalan youth living in the US to know about their culture. [...]

• What role does an individual play in defining their identity?
• How is identity affected by: surrounding community, geographic location, socio-economic background, religious beliefs, political affiliation, gender, sexuality, level of education, access to technology?
• What responsibilities accompany self-imposed cultural allegiance?
• What responsibilities accompany societal-imposed cultural allegiance?

student work from Cuyotenango, Guatemala

nuestro mundo

Nuevos Compañeros 2

June 11, 2007 § 1 Comment

Please Check for updates, as I continue to add more to this post.

Dianna Montano

Dianna Montano is currently finishing her BFA in sculpture/ installation/ new media art at Colorado State Univeristy in Albuquerque, NM.

When I found her Ay Chico (Lengua Afuera) Music Video, on youtube I immediately contacted her and asked her if she would be interested in collaborating. She gladly agreed, so I am introducing her work as continuation to the
Nuevos Compañeros post.

Dianna says:

Critiquing the onslaught of perversion, and obsession of Latina women. This video subverts the stereotype, by overtly portraying what is all too prevalent in mainstream culture. Latina women are poised as nothing more than sex objects. With this, the woman literally becomes the “spicy latina” everyone desires. It also relates to how Latina women deal with the stereotypes and expectations that are imposed by sources such as family, religion, and the media. For Latinas, sexual power is in constant conflict.


Below is an installation shot of her piece:


My “Spicy Latina” piece in its full glory. It doesn’t get any better than chili pepper lights, Mexican sarape blankets, a traditional Virgin de Guadalupe, and a gold dangly. ay ay ay!!

Check out this post Identity Issues Affecting Puerto Rican Girls: An Artist Speaks to hear more on the Spicy Latina.

I have been told “Oh you just look like you like to have sex” (by both men and women.) I have come to expect this as the norm: being called a spicy latina, hot tamale, firecracker and other such fiery terms. Cofer states that “advertisers have designated “sizzling” and “smoldering” as the adjectives of choice for describing not only the foods but the women of Latin America.”

Maya Escobar isn’t even Jewish

June 8, 2007 § 17 Comments

UPDATE: PHOTOS

2005

On an almost daily basis, I receive emails from people asking if I am in fact actually Jewish. Although I do find it somewhat bizarre that they find satisfaction in my acknowledgment of what I have already stated numerous times, I usually respond. Come to think of it, the occasions where I have been accepted as a Jew (without further questioning) have been few and far between.

  • “ No you can’t be Jewish you are Hispanic”
  • “You don’t look Jewish”
  • “Escobar… is that a Sephardic name?”

Recently I discovered that without our knowledge, the validity of my own and my brother Gonzalo’s Jewishness has come into question (to the point where documentation has been requested) from people that we are now very close with.

Below are some of the examples of comments (not emails, I do not share the content of emails without permission) from youtube:

roundedwhtcollar Am I the only one who thinks this reprobate Turd is NOT in fact a Jew?

Rafaelpicc But is her las name jewish? or converted?

ReptorY her last name isnt jewish.

xruchy you are not jewish i guess… tus videos= cero aporte

raquelita40 she’s half Jewish/ half Guatemalan.

nakedjanet i am also suspicious. for one thing, escobar is not a typical Jewish name. For another, Jewish girls are usually a whole lot smarter, and have a whole lot more substance, than this girl has

(from chaptzem blogspot) There is no way she is Jewish- there may be a small chance her family are anusim or something.

But what gets even more bizarre is that interspersed with in those comments are horrible anti-semitic statements:

johnnycastle86xx all the jews have to die, stupid jewish puta de mierda. Que mierda que Hitler no mato a tu familia, asi tu no hubieras nacido. muerte a los judios y muerte a israel.

mocrostyle3600 AnotherJewish nasty bitch

mrrimfire She’s an ugly cockroach

filet there’s a nice Jewishcrew- club… Its re-open and called Auschwitz. the drinks are on the house!!! but only for jewish people

roshanpinto13 i want to put you in a concentration camp bitch if your people want israel so bad why don’t you go there and rid the world from your hideous jewish ways

So in light of my sarcasric sense of humor I entitled this post : Maya Escobar isn’t even Jewish I wonder what will come of that statement… From Judaism 101: Who Is a Jew?

First, traditional Judaism maintains that a person is a Jew if his mother is a Jew, regardless of who his father is. The liberal movements, on the other hand, consider a person to be Jewish if either of his parents was Jewish and the child was raised Jewish. Thus, if the child of a Jewish father and a Christian mother is raised Jewish, the child is a Jew according to the Reform movement, but not according to the Orthodox movement. On the other hand, if the child of a Christian father and a Jewish mother is not raised Jewish, the child is a Jew according to the Orthodox movement, but not according to the Reform movement! The matter becomes even more complicated, because the status of that children’s children also comes into question.

In my case my mother is Jewish and my father is not. Yet it is my father that pushed me to go to Hebrew school until I was 16. Rain or shine my parents have been attending Shabbat services at JRC for almost 20 years. I remember being so mad as a child that my friends got to go out on Friday nights, and I was stuck with my family not even allowed to watch TV when we got home from services. Vickie Korey left the nicest comment on my Rabbi Brant Rosen’s blog:

I remember Maya at Friday night services at JRC, sometimes listening intently, sometimes reading, but always being present. When one of the children of our extended spiritual family grows to be such a fine, thoughtful and accomplished young woman we are all proud. Gonzolo and Tina have worked hard to set a strong foundation for Maya and I am so pleased for her and her family.

A few months ago I met with my Rabbi to discuss my (art) work. During our discussion I mentioned to him how my father is feeling really nervous about me having an orthodox wedding where he will not be included in the ceremony. Brant said something to me that really touched my heart. Your father is the essence of what a Jew is, he is a stranger in a strange land. I agree with him whole-heartedly, and if you ask most JRC members I am sure they would agree as well. However that does not change the fact that he is not considered to be Jewish by our neighbors, and even if he converted, to them it would not be halakhic unless he went through orthodox conversion.

So who is a Jew? Who determines this?

As I stated in a previous post I will be working as the art director this summer for Camp JRF. I am in the process of creating this summer’s curriculum that will be geared towards answering these very questions and challenging notions of Jewish Identity. Below is a very rough sketch of my plan…. (Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or would be interested in contributing any resources)

The Changing Face of Jewish Identity: an exploration of self and what it means to be a Jew in our contemporary society

To introduce the concept of a changing Jewish Identity will discuss the following:

  • How do we define ourselves/ how do others define us?
  • Who is a Jew?
  • Can someone be more or less Jewish/ who decides this?
  • What is our role in society?
  • What characteristics make up a Jew?

Mediums Mixed media sculpture

Art Exhibitions The Jewish Identity Project Too Jewish Challenging Tradition Identities

Written Works by Ilan Stavans Achy Obejas Rebecca Walker

Campers will produce mixed media sculptures that reflect their perception of what it means to be a Jew

Pre- Activities:

  • We will begin as an ice breaker/ intro to project identifying the characteristics that make up Jews.
  • Followed by a discussion on contemporary representations of Jews in Popular culture

Project Campers working in groups of 3-4 will have the option of creating either abstract or representational mixed media sculptures that to them represent Jewish identity. Prior to the construction of their piece students will need to create a (flexible) proposal that outlines their piece.

  • Will it be site specific (interact with a certain location)?
  • What form will it take?
  • Will it have a function?
  • What materials will be used based on the above?

If they end up going with more representational sculptures I thought it would be really cool to photograph the sculptures and to place them in various Jewish settings and non-Jewish settings (baseball stadium, temple, Shabbat dinner, work, school….)

Identity Issues Affecting Puerto Rican Girls: An Artist Speaks

May 23, 2007 § 19 Comments

In her essay The Myth of the Latina Woman/ Just Met a Girl Named Maria, Judith Ortiz Cofer describes her Puerto Rican upbringing in a strict Catholic home in New Jersey, where she was taught to behave like a proper señorita. Cofer explains that the conflicting messages she received as a child, were those commonly propagated by Puerto Rican mothers. “They encourage their daughters to look and act like women and to dress in clothes that our Anglo friends and their mothers found to mature for our age.”

When the mere notion of latinidad equates passion and sexuality to gringos, why is it that Latino men are the first ones to point finger and to call these same women suelta (loose) or facil (easy)? Wouldn’t they understand? Have they not been subjected to the same treatment? Perhaps it is comes down to the way they were raised.

In the Latino culture ideas of masculinity and femininity are delineated very early on. Author Evelyn P. Stevens, first introduced this concept know as machismo and marianismo in 1973. Machismo grants supreme authority of the man over the woman. Under this doctrine women, who are considered to be morally and spiritually superior to men are able to endure abuse. They grow up expected to follow the sexual code of marianismo, and are submissive to the man’s authority.

Puerto Rican culture places women into one of two categories the virgin or the whore; mujeres de la casa (women of the home) or mujeres de la calle (women of the street). Una mujer de la casa, is expected to be pure, giving and compassionate. While, una mujer de la calle is considered to be sluty, wild, and dangerous.

In Honor and the American Dream: Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community, author Ruth Horowitz says the following:

The very presence of a woman outside the household implicates them in promiscuity and/or sexual misconduct. Puerto Rican girls learn this good girl/bad girl dichotomy most clearly in the recruitment into reproductive labor… A good girl cooks, cleans, takes care of younger siblings, and helps her parents. In contrast una muchacha de la calle is a transgressive women who has gone beyond patriarchal control whose sexuality is unbounded and therefore dangerous.

While in Puerto Rico this January, I had the privilege of meeting the incredibly talented video artist, Tamara Liz Rivera Boria. Tamara and I instantly bonded, finding similarity in the content of our work, and decided that we needed to collaborate.

I conducted a short series of interviews with her (documented with the camera from my laptop), where she describes her work as it plays on the screen behind her…


click on above image to view video

Interview with Puerto Rican Artist Tamara Liz Rivera Boria

Maya: Tamara, what can you tell me about muchachas de la calle and muchachas de las casa?

Tamara: De la casa and de la calle girls might as well be related. They exchange roles sometimes, de la casa girl wanting to be de la calle, and vice versa.

Maya: How has this affected you?

Tamara: I was raised in a catholic home, in a catholic school. I can tell you, I have been fucked up. I didn’t want to be told what to do, or what to believe in.How can you tell someone that using a condom is a sin? I had many issues over the years being raised like that. Even though my parents are not Catholic extremists. They were pretty easy going that’s how they could understand me or deal with me. Deep inside it made a mark, no matter how much I tried to live and understand the world. I became insane trying to understand other people lifestyle because indeed I might have been raised inside a bubble. I still am kind of in there, don’t wanting to look at how things really are.

Maya: What role does your cultural upbringing play in your work?

Tamara: Recently I made a video called él, baño de marîa. In this video I present various symbolism about religion, pecados (sins), sexuality, purity, faith among other things. Mainly because our culture has raised us thinking inside the box, controlling us with Christianity, especially Catholicism. Being pure, waiting till marriage although most don’t do it, is deep inside the mind. Like it is wrong to embrace sexuality.

Aglubium, is another video I made in collaboration with Ralph Vazquez and Rebecca Adorno. In this video I am drowning, or trying to kill myself by submerging my head in the water. It’s aggressive, and it’s beautiful. We just want to end, we don’t want to think. We don’t want to face fears. We don’t want to wait, we want to get it over. We want to drown our fears. We don’t want to face reality. Escape its what we do.

Maya: How do you escape?

Tamara: Most people (Puerto Ricans) use drugs. Puerto Ricans that do not use illegal drugs, use legal pills, alcohol or even coffee. Everyone has an addiction. It’s a shame but I have seen most of my friends doing drugs. I been there, I done that but I never had an addiction. My new boyfriend said I was an alcoholic, he didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t. It wasn’t till he lived with me for over a moth when he saw that I didn’t drink for so long that he believed me, and with the cigarettes the same.

For some weird reason I can try things for as long as I want and not create any addiction. I wish it were the same with those that surround me. But in the arts almost all the people I know use some kind of drugs, are the ones that worry me the most are the most intelligent that keep using. I guess they are not that smart…

Maya: Is there an alternative to escape?

Tamara: I can see clearly that with true art I can make a difference, I can say what I understand to be real and important. I might help somebody. Other people just ignore what is going on (Puerto Rico). So many things had happen here, that demanded the people marching up the streets in protest, because our government is insane. But people don’t, they just “sit quietly”. They don’t want to get involved, they think they cannot change anything. They believe they have no power, when indeed I say, with all your power, what would you do? – I love that flaming lips song-

Maya: How does this affect Puerto Rican girls?

Tamara: Puerto Rican girls have many issues. Not only because of gringos (Americans) our identity issues extend into religion and the ways women are portrayed in the reggaeton culture. Girls want to be thin like gringas (American girls), they don’t like they’re beautiful curves, ass and tits. They always feel fat no matter how thin they are. I bet this happen everywhere, but these are issues we shouldn’t have.

Accepting ourselves, as we are its what we should do. Because we are not gringas! We are not blonde and white! But boys see these girls in TV, and everywhere and they expect girls like that. It’s the gringo media. I’ve forgotten all about this, but I also had these issues. I think I kind of still do, I just ignore most of the time.

Maya: You mentioned Reggaeton, what message do you think Reggaeton is sending to young women?

Tamara: Reggaeton is a part of that movement leads ladies to feeling less than the man, like he has to buy her. Girls learn to use their sexual power way to early with reggaeton. It is a confrontation for some, between what they like (reggaeton movement, lifestyle) and the religious foundation they might have. But since it probably was forced (religion) they escaped thru reggaeton. Ultimately ending in ugly situations.

Maya: Okay , I agree with you. But I am not going to lie, I love reggaeton… are you sure you don’t secretly like it?

Tamara: I don’t dig reggaeton; I see how girls embrace being just a piece of meat, especially high schools girls. How much is this necklace, like a million? Said a girl, the boy answered – no. The girl said – well then, work and buy me this necklace.

Yesterday I heard a senior girl say that to her boyfriend at a hotel, it was their prom. Girls parade in lil’ dresses, easily they could have been mistaken for high-class whores. I won’t even comment on the dancing. It has gotten worse, every time. Since parents are so young they allow they’re children to behave like this. I mean, I see a problem with these situations. Boys catch another boy,looking at their girls, no matter if its sexual or if they just passed and look because its simply there, they get all worked up and want to fight. What is that dumbass looking at? So basically, what, people cant look at each other now? Girls can’t stand if you look at them either. Puerto Rico was not like that; you went to the mall, smiled and people smiled back at you.

The reggaeton anger and sexual damage can be easily identified. Even kindergarten boys are sexually harassing little girls. My mom is a teacher and I have heard some stories. I haven’t analyzed reggaeton issues deeply; this is just for what I have seen.

Maya: Thank you for your insight Tamara, I can’t wait to see what you produce next. I hope we can collaborate together in the future.

Tamara: I know I could make more sense out of my ideas, since they’re not organized very well, but it doesn’t matter. This is just the beginning of many wonderful works to come, ideas to flow… I’m glad that I can collaborate with you.

“Everything that surrounds me, mi entorno, makes a part of who I am and what I say in my videos. Little by little its somehow implicated.”

As I begrudgingly stated in my interview with Tamara, I am a fan of reggaeton. Like most, I don’t even acknowledge the lyrics or really think too much beyond the beat of the music. Yet now I find myself wondering, are most girls conscious of the message? I guess to some extent they must be, after all as Tamara shared many sing the lyrics as they grind (rub up) on men.

In my research I found extensive commentary regarding the direction of Salsa and its implications on women in the Puerto Rican community. However, as it is relatively new form of music, the writing concerning Reggaeton seems to be incredibly limited.

So I turned to a more contemporary source and found a blog entitled REGGAETONICA, written by Raquel Z. Rivera; author of New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. In a recent post: From White to Mulata: The Darkening Powers of Reggaetón, she shares an email addressing this very issue:

I think reggaeton has been raunchy & explicitly all along, but I think the lyrics have reverted back to the “Reggeaton Sex” days of Underground. I think that “raunchiness” & degradation have become more mainstream & therefore are seen as less scandalous & more acceptable to society, so I think it has questioned our value as a community. The fact that Reggaeton outright refers to sexual references & acts & is accepted as mainstream Puerto Rican culture posing an interesting cultural issue for me. Now you can go to Puerto Rico and see young girls singing “dame con el palo, ” & they’re parents paying no mind to it, which I think is crazy. In the beginning of Reggaeton I found the lyrics to be much more raunchy, violent, & drug-related. Then mainstream Reggaeton came along, switched the “sexo” to “amor” & the “nenas” to “gatas.” I think these subtle changes in language allowed Reggaeton to be more successful in the mainstream, but now a lot of artists are moving back to the original lyrics because they already have a stable fan base. I mean, look at someone like Tony Dize, if you translated some of his songs into English, they could put even 50 Cent to shame with the blatant sexual references & degradation of women.

Perhaps reggaeton is so widely accepted by mainstream and popular culture, because it provides a free ticket to promote these concepts in a non-threatening form. If Puerto Rican women and other Latinas are fine dancing to this music, then what harm is there in gringos doing the same.

This then becomes representative of Puerto Rican culture. When a gringa dances to reggaeton she can purse her lips and grind on men, but without an attached stigma. She is just acting like a Latina girl. The Puerto Rican girls participating in this scene are aiding in the further perpetuation of the stereotype of Latina’s being easy.

However, as Tamara explained a lot of this has to do with a search for independence. Wanting to rebel against the forced restrictions of being una mucha de la casa, girls go to the furthest extreme to break down those barriers. But to what cost?

I myself am unable to provide a concrete solution. Yet I do think that one of the primary steps to forward progress is conversation. Tamara and myself have opted to publish the text on the web so that others may join in the dialog…

Obsessed With Frida Kahlo

April 11, 2007 § 21 Comments

obsessed with frida kahlo, 2007

el es frida kahlo, 2007

part of the piece I did for d[x]i magazine on the commodification of Frida Kahlo

auto retrato, 2003

autoretrato

frida painting, 2007

frida puppets, 2007

In search of the #1 Frida Kahlo fan in the World

PROVE IT answer the following questions:

When did you fall in love with Frida?

Why do you admire her?

What trivia do you know about Frida Kahlo?

How many and what Frida objects do you own? (prints of her work, t-shirts, mugs, wall hangings, toothbrushes, etc…)

please leave a written comment, submit photos, or a video response
Dressed as Frida

Still from Forever Frida
Frida KahloFrida Kahlo @ Fiddlehead Fest.me dressed as frida kahlo at work

RachelFrida03Alter EgoMe As Frida Kahlo 1

Davina as FridaFrida KahloFrida Kahlo's 100th Birthday

The JAP©

February 13, 2007 § 6 Comments

from the series acciones plásticas


click here for Kol Ra’ash Gadol’s critque on Jewschool about this piece.

When Maya Escobar uses this stereotype she may be either mocking it or indulging it – or both – that’s one of the dangers of comedy. She clearly thinks that she’s mocking it, and attempting to provide a conversation starter (Okay, Maya, so here I am starting a conversation: Kol hakavod!) But even in her attempts to mock the stereotypes that have been projected onto her (and let’s be clear the chach and the sexy latina aren’t any better!), I have to wonder about those who are watching the comedy, and whether it helps them reject – or accept- those experiences in which they met a person onto whom they themselves projected such a label. “After all, how can she “nail the JAP” if there’s no JAP to be nailed, if the JAP happens to simply be a person whom one dislikes upon meeting, but no more likely a Jew than a Lutheran? In order for it to confirm that glorious feeling, one has to have a little sense that there is something about being Jewish and female that attaches to that kind of behavior, n’est ce pas?

she offers the following links
an exerpt from Dr. Evelyn Torton Beck’s essay “From ‘Kike to Jap’:How misogyny, anti-semitism, and racism construct the Jewish American Princess.”
bibliography of the analysis of the JAP stereotype

www.lilith.org/landmark_articles/jap.pdf

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