The history of art has a long-standing tradition of exclusion. The most honored mentions within art history are reserved for first and foremost, white men, followed by white women, and the hierarchical ladder just descends in order of marginalized group and their histories. It has become quite apparent, that there is a glaring deficit of text, theory, and academic resources created by women of color, from Central America, working in the fiber, craft, and textile traditions. Outside of anthropological based texts, that are predominantly written by caucasian authors and are ripe with interpolations of voyeuristic and fetishistic connotations of the people, traditions, and practices that are  then categorized as non-fine art objects. Objects that are then  delegated to the realms of folk art and craft, a field that is not considered to be  high caliber.
 
In making the decision to apply to graduate school, I am extremely aware that entering into a space like UCLA, a space and institution that is built around that same hierarchy I am questioning as an artist and as a woman of color from Central America, I am entering into an institution that falls within the very system I am examining with a critical eye. Programs that attract individuals looking to obtain a Masters in Fine Art, especially prevalent and prestigious programs such as this one, are often saturated with the same propagated histories of individuals that spearhead those movements, and in the end, they do not represent me, my art, my culture, or my practice. I have become hypersensitive to the references of Sheila Hicks, Claire Zeisler, and Aurelia Muñoz as part of the my studio visits repertoire and there are no references to the looms of the Guatemalan highlands, the women weavers and decorative practices of Nahualá. There is such little representation of Mayan art forms in the fine art  field. Central American women artists are rarely elevated as art makers, theorists, and authorities within their craft, mediums, and processes. This leads me to believe that the art world will collect fiber and textile works, cite the Mayan as resources (within anthropological studies and concepts), and give that acknowledging nod in the direction of the indigenous, only when the art objects fall into the conformable category of the “primitive” or costume.
 
I see an educational career at UCLA  as an opportunity for prolonged academic growth, in both my research and my studio practice. I am at a place in my practice where I have had steady exhibition opportunities, my network of colleagues and friends feels stronger than ever and yet,despite all of  the aforementioned resources, there is  still something lacking.  This i s where my need for investigation and in depth research would play a large role in my career at UCLA. My work  focuses on reinterpreting the practices, methods, and techniques that have been prevalent from as far back as the mesoamerican and pre-Columbian Mayan textile makers, bringing those techniques into the present, and citing the original practitioners of the techniques properly and outside of an anthropological study. In reinterpreting fiber work techniques into sculptural art objects that exist in a contemporary art space today, I am giving the viewer  a different lens to approach the practice of craft, textile and fiber art. A lens that exists outside of European intellectualism, art history, anthropology, and theory.  I am creating fine art objects doused with the identity of being a Central American woman, the camaraderie in those techniques and practices, what they represent as stand ins of feminine identity and power, as well as simultaneously legitimizing indigenous practices within the contemporary fine art world. This concept merges with the minimal palettes, another reference the the incredibly patriarchal canon of Minimalism. A movement that is notorious for being a “boys club.” In butting the two movements of craft and minimalism together, I am subverting the clout that Minimalism carries while injecting feminist ideals and feminine assigned techniques into a space in which those concepts were not welcome.  This is an act of  decolonization as well as  a way to re-indigenize and insert the identities of the Central American women as references, references that have been  allocated to Stella, Hicks, Zeisler, and LeWitt for so long.
 
I am looking forward to the community of peers, the studio space, and the time to carve out the very resources and references that I so desperately seek. Graduate school seems like the perfect structure to enter into in order to gift oneself time to have a more prolific studio practice, time for specialized research and investigations, and a chance to have regular critical discussions regarding one’s work. There are few opportunities for systems such as these, where making and learning are so fueled and nurtured for an extended period of time, and I believe that the graduate program at UCLA would be the best one for me,  having the opportunity to work with artists like Andrea Fraser, Rodney McMillan, and Barbara Kruger would greatly influence and contribute to the strengthening of my practice and philosophies, while giving me resources to explore the themes of identity, feminism, diaspora, and decolonization in my work from a graduate level perspective.