no sos frida kahlo, 2007
no sos frida kahlo, 2007
There is one specific image that I have never been able to remove from my mind: an image of a Guatemalan solider pointing a gun at the belly of a young pregnant woman. Ironically, I have no recollection as to the source of that specific image. Part of me wonders if that image even existed, or if it was a confabulation of my youth, created in response to the countless stories of political massacre in Guatemala that my father described to me on a regular basis.
The Power of Image
Recently I attended a symposium on Architecture, Art and the Experience of Blackness, where I was greatly moved by the words of Hamza Walker, who serves as the Director of Education and Associate Curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
In an effort to outline “blackness” or the “black experience”, Walker alluded to the profound impact of the publication of the casket-side Emmett Till photos in JET magazine.
The Till incident began with the brutal beating and murder of an 11yr old boy, whose only crime was whistling at a white woman. In a surprisingly high profile trial the two men accused were almost immediately acquitted by an all white jury. The boy’s grieving mother insisted on an open casket funeral so that the world could see what had happened to her beloved son.
Walker said, that the media transmission of these transgressions confirmed the collective understanding shared by African Americans that this treatment was the reality of the judicial system. If they were to ever “compromise the integrity of a white woman” what happened to Till would happen to them.
Is exposure to explicit images of human brutality the proper way to insure that these incidents do not repeat themselves?
How many times have we seen the same iconographic holocaust pictures?
But do we know who is in these images and what is taking place?
Has seeing the same images a million times done anything the stop the Iraq war or prevent genocide in Darfur?
Perhaps the issue comes down to the dissemination of information to young people. Without providing a proper context for the interpretation and dialogue surrounding these explicit images, the depicted incidents become far removed from our lives, and we become numb to their reality.
Why a Coloring Book?
Coloring Books, emerged in the United States a part of the movement towards the “democratization of education”. They are commonly utilized in popular education models as, accessible teaching tools for often illiterate audiences.
This coloring book provides the platform for the introduction and the critical re-evaluation of social movements the context in which they occurred, and the individuals who have preserved and made a major impacts upon the world.
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