"Mestiza y Mestizo "

Pastel on paper

2020

mes·ti·zo

/meˈstēzō,məˈstēzō/

noun

noun: mestizo; plural noun: mestizos

  1. (in Latin America) a man of mixed race, especially one having Spanish and indigenous descent.

 

Mexico, in my eyes, is a region plagued by contrast and injustice; it is a place where beauty is hidden in the humblest ceiling and dirt can be smelled in the most ostentatious places. In my early childhood I realized that Mexican society is divided into two groups: the privileged and the non-privileged. The privileged are more often caucasian and of European descent, meanwhile the non privileged are of indigenous descent. I was always fascinated by this racial and social division. Yet it is important to note that I was born into a life of privilege, therefore I have never had to work to feed my family, I have always been healthy and I have had a well rounded education. Being part of the privileged class I was able to live a comfortable life but also a distant life. A life away from the "real" Mexico, a life in which friends constantly said racist remarks, a life in which I felt I was responsible for this division yet I did not want to give away my privileged lifestyle. Consequently, I always asked myself, "How can I consider myself Mexican if I have never experienced a social system shaped against me? How can I feel Mexican if I have never left home because I needed to? What does it mean to be Mexican?"

 

I had been encapsulated into an idea that in order to be Mexican you needed to be a brown skinned, funny, working individual; and that if you wanted to be successful you needed to be the opposite: a whiteskinned, eurocentric, white collar character. I blindly believed that there was this barrier between skin tones that determined our identity and ultimately… our motherland. I decided to challenge that social scheme by proposing that being Mexican is neither being completely from indigenous or from european descent. Being Mexican means being “Mestizo”: a mix of races and ancestral cultures; a man or woman that embodies cultural tradition.

My artwork elaborates on all of the commonalities I share and I find within Mexicans, as well as denouncing the abysmal differences. The totality of my pieces propose a meeting point in between the two realities: the european and the indigenous. To achieve this I explore themes like ancestral catholic traditions mixed with indigenous imagery, violence converging with social hierarchy, and cultural memory displayed through brutalism. My medium choices are directly related to the social landscape that I live in; I am trying to create an artistic image of “Mestizaje ''through  the juxtaposition of mediums, yet still preserving the feel of cultural familiarity. I have delved into Olmec ceramics, Mixtec techniques for Comal making, large scale portraits inspired by the great Mexican muralists, baroque imagery, construction materials, and brutalist design. 


 My practice is a reaction to the social problematic I believe defines Mexicans: failed Mestizaje. I believe we are still fighting to overcome this idea of separation through class and race. I believe we are still soaked in the residue of the stories of conquest and success. I believe we are running away from each other just to find ourselves on the other side of the mirror, on the other side of the street, on the other side of the river. I portray my roots, my dreams, my intimacy and my beliefs to give the audience a gateway into my traditions, my family, my story, myself; while condemning the social problematic occurring in my everyday environment. I am creating a personal visual archive of what it means to be part of a culture that relies on the union of races to thrive. I hope that after experiencing my work you will challenge your ideals on behavior and social class, breaking the barrier that separates "you" from "them."

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©2020 by Pedro Resendez Art