Día De Los Muertos Individuales

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

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

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…

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SELECTED STATEMENTS

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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

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.

https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/140/407330068_cef67d7d48.jpg

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.

https://i1.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3362/3521552366_98c65eccfe.jpg

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

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

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

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

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[…]