Curator: Miret Rodríguez
Artists: CARLOS COLÍN, MICHELLE BOURGET MORALES, OSVALDO RAMIREZ CASTILLO, PILAR MEHLIS, TEO MONSALVE, VANESSA MERCEDES FIGUEROA, XIMENA VELÁZQUEZ
Volver (to return, to become) is an exhibition that shares immigration-related viewpoints of Latin American artists in Vancouver. These artists have diverse back-and-forward relationships with Canada and their countries of origin. Their movement and cultural fusion seeps into their work, their physical mobility parallels their identity in constant flux, becoming their very unique hybrid-selves. The complexities that arise from moving across borders and becoming an immigrant of Latin American heritage come to the surface with these works.
The works in Volver (to return, to become) offer its audience a personal connection to the sensation of feeling foreign and becoming someone else. Loss, dislocation, exoticism, and cultural hybridity are just a handful of the themes explored in this exhibition.
- Saturday October 15, 2022, noon-1:30pm: Join the curator on a guided tour at CityScape Community ArtSpace as part of the NORTH SHORE ART CRAWL and BC CULTURE DAYS
- Sunday October 16, 2022, noon- 2pm: A Panel Discussion with the artists at MONOVA register here on eventbrite
Miret Rodriguez (B. Azcapotzalco Mexico City, 1988) is vice president for the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre. She is also the creative director and co-founder of Curated Tastes, an art mediation company that organizes engaging tours and art appreciation classes for Vancouverites to connect with local art. Miret was born and spent her childhood years in the vibrant district of Azcapotzalco in Mexico City and her teenage years in the isolated suburbs. At 18, she moved to Vancouver to study Art History at UBC and in 2015 obtained an MBA specializing in arts and culture from the Superior School of Commerce in Paris. Miret relies on art and the artists that make it to navigate through cultural dislocation and hybridity. For over a year and a half, Miret has been interviewing Latinx artists in Canada about their immigration stories and their ways of expressing their experiences through art. This has led her into curating Volver (to return, to become) opening on October 6 at Cityscape Community Artspace in North Vancouver.
Artists’ Statements and Biographies
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo
My areas of research and art production are concerned with issues of collective memory, historical trauma and identity explored through interdisciplinary approaches to drawing, which involve printmaking, stop-motion animation video and installation work. Originally from El Salvador, my work explores the impact and legacy of the Salvadoran civil war in the 1980’s- a time my family and I witnessed, and as a result of which, immigrated to Canada.
Using mixed media drawing techniques as primary tools for storytelling I deploy a multitude of motifs found in pre-Hispanic mythology, Salvadoran popular folklore, Catholic iconographies with styles sourced from Western art history to merge a hybridized aesthetic of historical, cultural and personal experience. My studio process is engaged in revision work of collective histories, issues of migration, violence and the study of indigenous knowledge unique to El Salvador’s living memory.
Following a non-linear approach to storytelling, my body of work is an intuitive construction of memory as a form of personal myth-making that casts political expressions, voices modes of resistance, and most recently speaks to a process of reconciliation, repair and healing.
As a Salvadoran visual artist and educator I’ve lived and worked in the ancestral unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, known as Vancouver for 9 years.
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo (b. 1978, El Salvador) immigrated to Canada at age 11. He is a graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design (2001) and obtained his MFA degree at Concordia University in 2008. He has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally in venues such as The International Print Centre in New York, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, MAI (Montréal Arts interculturels), The Mexic-Arte museum in Austin, Texas and La Halle Saint Pierre in Paris among others.
He is the recipient of The Artist Studio Award Program by the City of Vancouver (2015-2018), including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2010) and numerous others from The Canada Arts Council. He was shortlisted for the Pierre- Ayot Prize in 2009 for an emerging artist by the City of Montréal. In 2011 Castillo was the winner of the Victor-Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for a mid-career artist in visual arts in Canada. He has participated in international residency programs at The Vermont Studio Centre in Vermont; Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, California; Proyecto ‘ACE in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and The Santa Fe Art Institute (Immigration & Emigration residency in 2016, and Truth & Reconciliation residency in 2019), New Mexico. USA.
A former resident of Montréal, he now lives and works in the ancestral unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, known as Vancouver, Canada.
As a Latin American artist, I am investigating how to use our local knowledge, lived realities, and histories as new expressions of social and cultural progress. My research topic explores and connects the core cultural, theoretical, social, political, artistic intersections between art, society, and decolonialization. I have studied baroque as a colonial legacy in contemporary Mexico, and by extension, Latin America in the XX and XXI centuries, and by extension its migration. One of the goals of my research and art practice is to encourage new generations in Latin America and abroad to be exposed to Latin American theories, culture, and knowledge. My interdisciplinary research areas of interest include History, Art History, Latin American Art, Contemporary Art, Latin American History, Anthropology, History, and Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
Carlos Colín (Mexico, 1980), currently lives and works between Mexico City and Vancouver, Canada. Carlos is represented by Fazakas Gallery in Vancouver. He is a visual artist, pedagogue, and PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at UBC. Carlos’ research topic explores and connects the core cultural, theoretical, socio-political, religious, and artistic manifestations through baroque’s system as a colonial legacy in contemporary Mexico, Latin America, and by extension its migration. He studied his undergraduate program in Visual Communication and Design (2004), and a Master of Fine Arts at the National School of Fine Art UNAM, in Mexico City (2011). He has a second Master of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia in UBC (2013). His work has been exhibited in venues like the biennial BIENALSUR 2021; AWA Cultura in Caracas, Venezuela; Aramauca Contemporary Art Platform in Chiapas, Mexico; The Reach Gallery Museum, and Grunt Gallery in BC; Sur Gallery in Toronto; Galería de la Raza in San Francisco; and Rufino Tamayo Museum, Mexico City to name a few. Colin was awarded the 2016 Emerging Artist, Mayor’s Arts Awards for the City of Vancouver in Visual Arts; the 2017 Artist Studio Award Program.
Vanessa Mercedes Figueroa
Equilibrio is an installation and performance archive, making up what I have been referring to as balancing acts. Añoranza, which is written on all the bricks, is a Spanish word meaning longing or yearning and is an exploration of loss and desire through a lens of cultural connectivity and my lack thereof.
The third space coined by Homi K Bhabha refers to hybrid cultural perspectives associated with both globalization and colonialism. As my work inhabits the third space, I have been continually exploring what it means to be ethnically coded existing within western spaces, and the navigation of these spaces as a person of colour. This exploration of the third space inhabited by children of immigrants has become a key focus within my practice.
My bricks have brought me to a place in my practice and where I’ve come to refer to many of my objects as performative and allowing them to have a life of their own. That longing and yearning they hold is maintained through their balancing acts and they don’t always live up to my expectations: crashing, falling, and breaking, I am left frustrated. Yet I feel a love for them because I made them. My practice has become like a child, I made it and it won’t always be what I want or expect but I take it for what it is because I made it. That unconditional love tinged with the juxtaposition of subtle disappointment is eternally familiar.
Living and working out of Vancouver, Canada, I am an emerging artist, activist and woman of colour exploring politically driven protest art through multidisciplinary pursuits. Focusing especially on identity politics, as well as the consideration of critical theory, my goal is to create a visual response and evaluation of current events affecting marginalized groups to set the tone for the sociopolitical period we are in, to allow for revaluation and critical reflection.
My work primarily functions through a diaristic lens exploring the notion of homemaking within the third space inhabited by children of immigrants of colour. Through performative, photographic, and sculptural gestures, intervention of the longing and yearning for home while existing within the third space and making home your own. While living within the third space, existing is inherently uncomfortable and when living within those in-between, comfort and home are self made.
Creating home comes to me through both multidisciplinary pursuits, exploring materials and media such as hair, textile, collage, plaster, photography, dance, performance and many more.
Michelle Bourget Morales
My sculptural work is concerned with abjection, class, and gender dynamics. By corrupting the discourse and sabotaging the big daddy mainframe I’m reclaiming the reproductive dream as a queer woman. With my work, I try to expose the fragility of queerness and women’s labor in the ambiguous difference between culture and nature, machines and organisms, externally designed and self-developing, dualisms at the heart of matrix complex dominations of male-stream civilization to dominate nature.
Michelle Bourget Morales was born and raised in Tamaulipas, Mexico. She Moved to Canada in 2011 and has been residing in the traditional and unceded Territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations, so called “Greater Vancouver”, ever since. Through the process of art making Michelle can investigate and cross-examine the privileges, issues, and complexities of her life as an immigrant woman. Michelle’s artistic practice shows how even though she is away from Mexico her culture, background, and history will always be key elements in her art and sense of self. These elements along with global political issues will always dictate her decisions and ways to critically make and think. Concerned with abjection, class, and gender dynamics Michelle’s work is playful, bizarre and often titillating. Michelle’s comical attitude towards status symbols, social constructs, and queerness, demonstrates her ability to expose and play with the complexities around topics of sexuality, alienation, and the division between high-low culture.
I am a Canadian/Bolivian artist who paints, draws, and sculpts mostly from my imagination. Using techniques based in the academic method I work meticulously to bring about the characters in my work. The anthropomorphic “Passarin” (Ornithrope) figure for example is modeled after the Cliff swallow, who, like me migrates between Canada and Bolivia. It allows me to speak of all things migratory in poetic and often whimsical ways. My work’s intent is to communicate with Beauty and its transcendence in hopes that the Spirit of good, beauty and truth will infuse indelibly into my work and speak to the yearning of the human heart.
“The power of the Good has taken refuge in the nature of the Beautiful” Plato
” …beauty is the visible form of the good, just as the good is the metaphysical condition of beauty” Saint John Paul II
Pilar Mehlis is a Canadian/Bolivian visual artist and art instructor. Her art practice includes drawing, collage, mixed media, and sculpture. Pilar’s work centers around storytelling – focusing on ideas of human and animal migrations in particular migratory routes that echo her own across North and South America. She has exhibited extensively and has been featured in numerous print and online publications, including CBC Art minute, CBC Radio International, Galleries West, Preview Magazine and Thejealouscurator.com. Pilar lives with her husband and has a studio in the iconic 1000 Parker Street Studios building in Vancouver, BC.
My practice comes to be in the intersection between material and conceptual research focused on generating visual and intellectual strategies to think about humans and interspecies relations. Working with painting and collage, I am also invested in human dialogue with the natural world, both through science and embodied knowledge. Analyzing the natural phenomenon of bird migrations has allowed me to visualize my ideas about my personal migration in the form of paintings and collages. While in painting I weave together narratives from different periods from western painting history; the collage work explores an interdisciplinary dialogue of aesthetic transformations, where I aim to generate elastic and hybrid narratives that lend themselves for fluid ways of sharing knowledge. Through my material practice, I weave and juxtapose diverse visual universes together so that they might emerge as new ecosystems expanding beyond their established meanings whether in biology, astronomy, anthropology, etc. My aim is to open a dialogue with histories of representation like painting history and natural history, to challenge their aesthetic structures and re-imagine them in a contemporary art context.
Teo Monsalve (Quito 1988) is a visual artist with a focus on painting, drawing, collage, printmaking, installation, and performance. By exploring themes related to the natural world of the Andes and the Amazon region of Ecuador, Monsalve is invested in developing and entangling a conversation with a variety of topics including history and landscape painting, the idea of the exotic as well as the sublime experience of nature. He has worked collaboratively with musicians as a way of expanding the rhythmic and vibrational elements of his aesthetic experiments. The predominant concerns in his practice are engaged with ideas of interculturality, interspecies relationships, geographical context and metamorphosis, both mythological and botanical. Weaving multiple narratives, drawn from his home country of Ecuador and his experience of living and studying in Canada Monsalve brings to his practice a range of influences reflecting a multicultural voice and his mestizo relationship with the Americas and the larger global sphere.
I am a Mexican-born artist based in what is colonially known as Vancouver, Canada. The artistic expression of my artwork incorporates video, performance, creative writing, deejaying, and fashion. I approach my art research from an autoethnographic perspective that allows me to address the cultural, political, and socioeconomic context through the lenses of queerness, disability, trauma, and joy. The pieces I create are derived from deep emotions, fragments of my diaries, memories, and voice/video recordings that I have been collecting during my lifetime.
Ximena Veláquez (Villahermosa, Tabasco) is a butterfly reborn as an agent of healing, who uses art to unfold existence. Her cross-dimensional practices focus on human connection and self-awareness as tools for shifting toward heart consciousness. Navigating queerness, disability and immigration as points of struggle, she digs into the autoethnographic research to address the context of her experience under coloniality and its misalignments that affect the rhythm of our body-mind-spirits. She creates video art, video performances, poetry, DJ sets, paintings, and fashion designs. Inspired by sensuality, freedom, and uniqueness, Ximena’s art is rooted in deep emotions, where technology and desire intersect to nourish visions of joy and empowerment. Ximena is based on the unceded and occupied territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, (Vancouver, BC, Canada). She has a Bachelor in Communications and Digital Media (MX), is the founder of Caricias radio show, and sewing facilitator.