September 15, 2009 § 2 Comments
I was interviewed on the Latino Blog Directory site Blogadera
click here for full interview:
Here we are with Maya Escobar. An artist and educator whose art, personality and opinions come to life by way of her blog and social media extensions. We are thrilled to have her on to talk about her background, blogging and sharing her blogging experience with the rest of the blogadera.
When did you start blogging? What prompted you to pick it up.
I started blogging in 2005, at the time I was completing my degree in art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was interested in connecting with other artists, activists, students and educators to share ideas and resources.
What do you blog about? Why?
I blog about issues that relate to the artworks I am producing (basically concepts I am thinking about). Topics include: the construction of identity, hybridity, sexuality, education, placelessness, immigration, activism, religion, and mental health.
Can you give us a little bit of background on Maya Escobar?
Well… it just so happens that I just posted a new “about me” to my website:
I am a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. I use the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. I perform multiple identities and sample widely from online representations and existing cultural discourses. My identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs I keep, the visual and textual links I post, the books, articles, and blog posts I cite, the public comments I leave, and the groups I join.
By examining and re-imagining my personal experiences, I attempt to provide others with a framework for questioning societal limitations based on gendered and racialized cultural generalizations.
(if you found that about me too dull there is a post on my blog where I describe myself as an elephant)
Does your blog reflect your culture? Is this intentional or just a natural byproduct?
I hope that my blog reflects a culture of critical inquiry, communal dialogue, and collaboration. (this would be intentional)
What is the state of the Latino Blogosphere? Do you see it growing? Any Examples?
I see more and more Latina and Latino bloggers every day. But what I find most exciting is when those bloggers are young people and they are blogging with a positive message. A wonderful example that I have found is MyLatinitas.com the social networking platform hosted by Latinitas Magazine. Here young Latinas are actively sharing their thoughts on politics, culture, education, and family.
You work alot with videos…do you consider yourself a vlogger? If so, can you define that for us!
hmm… I am not really sure if I consider myself to be a vlogger. When I think of a vlogger, I think of a person who makes videos that contain similar content to content that would be included in a blog post (such as current events, politics, or personal observations.) Maybe, I am a part time vlogger
Any advice for Latinos who want to start blogging?
I think it is important to get a sense of why it is that you want to blog, what will your blog say about you, and how you envision your blog interacting with your personal and professional life.
Write about issues that you are passionate about, in a way that other people can relate to. Use the Internet for all it can do- link between your own posts and link to posts written by others. Read other people’s blogs and comment! If you want people to be interested in the things you are writing about know what they are writing about!
And most importantly when you can, blog in Spanish!
What blogs do you follow or subscribe to? Favorites?
I just started reading VivirLatino which led me to the awesome blog of La Mamita Mala. I have been following Latina Lista for sometime, Rio Yañez and his buddy Maya Chinchilla, Sergio Antonio, Jorge Linares…… the list just keeps on growing…
What are you favorite social media sites and how do you use these tools in your day-to-day?
At this point twitter, youtube, flickr and wordpress are the sites that I most commonly use. My activity on all of theses sites crosses over. For example, I might write a post on my blog, that will include a youtube video and images I posted onto flickr. Then I send a tweet that includes either a segment of my blog post, an image from the post, or some of the tag words describing the post.
Do you divide social media by purpose, friends, professional v. personal, etc.?
Not really, for the most part my personal life is my professional life.
What’s next for Maya? What do we have to look forward to from you?
I am working with my father on developing my first performance piece entirely in Spanish. We are using a recording of an interview my mother conducted with my abuelita in 1985, as source material for the monologue I will be performing recounting her experiences, but as myself- two generations removed……
I am also planning a piece with fellow artist and blogger Rio Yañez surrounding the Wise Latina phenomenon. I don’’t want to give too many details away, but I can promise there is going to be a Top 10 list!
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.
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
(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.
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 enraged 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.