July 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
Maya Escobar is a conceptual identity artist.
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:
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.
July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
Excerpt from the Tzit Tzit: Fiber Art and Jewish Identity Exhibition Catalog, by curator Ben Schacter.
Maya Escobar is a Latina Jew who relishes her ability to blur the boundaries not only between cultures but Jewish denominations. Her Shomer Negiah Panites is an extreme example. The expression shomer negiah refers to the law that limits sexual relations. While a women is menstruating and for several days after, she is not allowed to touch her husband. At the end of this time, she takes a ritual bath called a mikvah. This monthly ritual balances abstinence, cleanliness and intimacy. It is said by those who follow this tradition that time together is made even more precious.
Escobar’s work seems to turn this custom on its ear. First, sexuality in the Orthodox community is not publicly displayed. Underwear or anything remotely like it would not be shown in public. Second, part of the function of shomer negiah is one of modesty, not one to tease. But in a twist of modernity, the “tease” can be a way of female control. To exclaim, “Hands Off!” at precisely the moment of greatest vulnerability is exactly what Escobar’s underwear does.
Heckshered Tallis presents an air of transgression without doing so. A hecksher is a stamp placed on food to certify that its ingredients and method of processing follows the dietary rules observed by many Jews, called Kashrut. The symbols themselves have nothing to do with prayer and do not belong on a tallis, or prayer shawl, but the obsessive imprimatur suggests an over compensation on the part of the wearer. Women are not required to wear such garments but some congregants of more liberal egalitarian congregations do. Is Escobar suggesting women’s insecurity by obsessively certifying this tallis as “Kosher?”
Kosher Davening, 2006
The pattern of heckshers also creates a fashion akin to a Louis Vuitton print where the fabric is paradigmatic of luxury. Hechshered Tallis brings high fashion and religion together in a satisfyingly truthful and critical way. Even more interesting is the way Escobar’s work comments on different traditions and laws through fashion. Escobar’s oeuvre highlights denominational fragmentation by drawing attention to certain details of Jewish life. The traditional woman who follows shomer negiah would most likely not wear a tallis. Identity is rarely mixed in this way. For an artist to be able to make cross-denominational commentary such as found in Shomer Negiah Panties and Heckshered Tallis takes keen observation. Escobar does not exempt her own experience from such examination.
As she shared with me, her family chided her to make napkins for her future, now husband. This traditional role, that is to make the home, chaffed her mildly. She was resistant to such commonplace assumptions about gender so to exaggerate the request, she embroidered “napkin for my husband” across hand woven fabric. Her actions as a wife would thus never be taken for granted.
Napkin For My Husband, 2007
Napkin has been given an additional function, as a challah cover. One covers the challah, or bread made specifically to honor the Sabbath, before the blessing is said and the bread is cut. To embellish a cover heightens the ritual by making the objects beautiful. Napkin tethers together Jewish practice and the work of a relationship. Through her demonstrated knowledge of Jewish custom in her work, one wonders if she also knows Eishet Hayil, a song sung in praise of one’s wife. “A good wife, who can find? She is precious far beyond rubies.” Perhaps Escobar is not so passive aggressively demanding to be serenaded.
July 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
Recently I had the honor of being featured on Savvy Latina.
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July 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
July 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
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