Nepantlero spray paint and acrylic on canvas 40 x 30″ $1200
I’m exploring the relationship between migration and identity in this new series of paintings. Migration is a natural and essential act of living. But what happens to our identities when we cross political national borders?
We have the same instinctual behavior as animals to migrate, but for more complex reasons. Migrants and immigrants, in search of better job opportunities or fleeing violence, are emboldened to move. Through my use of abstraction, I seek to understand the identities migrants adopt in this transitional, liminal space. My hybrid animal/human migrantes (migrants) are caught in an undefined space, suspended in a state of in-between-ness. This new hybrid identity creates an element of ambiguity and uncertainty many migrants endure. The Chicana feminist writer, Gloria Anzaldúa, uses the concept of Nepantla to communicate her experiences of living at the border as an ambiguous space where she theorizes about bridging culture, gender, race, sexuality, and identity. Nepantla is a Nahuatl word meaning middle or in the middle of it. The Aztecs used this term to interpret their experience of conversion from their indigenous culture to a new colonized identity brought on by the 16th century Spanish conquest. The idea of not belonging caused by circumstance of having lived on both sides of the border similarly creates a tension in the identities of migrants. They must compromise and conform their identities when crossing borders to reduce confrontation or conflict in order to improve their opportunities. The idea of losing your sense of self becomes a way for survival in their migration journey.
Human migration is an unsettling passage of losing and forging new identities to acclimate to new surroundings. The migrantes in my paintings are a testament to the strength and courage they possess to navigate the nepantla with a moral rectitude that reveals a deeper understanding of our true nature.