For this grad project, I decided to visit some of the most valuable plastic that I have had experience in the past, which is Catholic iconography.
I wish I could paint a picture (I guess I could) of the shrine my grandmother had tucked away in her trailer. I am from the smallest town (ever) in Texas, it’s full of dirt, immigrants, trailers, and Catholics. The biggest church in town, the Catholic church, sat on top of a hill painted pink and would be surrounded by cars every Sunday. My family is still apart of that circle.
At a very young age I questioned my faith, so much so it is non-existent now. I used to find it so unusual how so much spiritual weight was put on these mass-produced plastic objects, cast in a mold, and sometimes hung from a keychain (not in an ironic way).
I grew up in a town right next to the border, the Rio Grande was about 15-20 minutes from my house. So, close in fact that the cartel would use that area in particular to smuggle drugs, humans, and everything else. When I would play outside I would see people walking across the desert, sometimes asking for water and then they would be on their way. Families with small children would come across the desert every day, sweaty, sunburnt, and exhausted.
Fun Fact: Our checkpoint is famous for arresting Willie Nelson, Fiona Apple, and Snoop Dog, for possession of weed of course.
This project for me represents a lot of my past. In the desert, you feel forgotten, lost, sometimes content, but mostly small. It reminds you of how big the universe actually is, especially when you can look up at the sky and see every possible star imaginable. It’s quiet and there isn’t a lot to do, it’s frankly quite boring. I joke about feeling like an alien in bigger cities because I feel so out of place most of the time, I have had these strange experiences that almost feel magical and can’t really connect with people who haven’t experienced that void before.
To be literal this project represents separation from my religion, culture, experiences, and past. Both literally and figuratively.
I visited Mexico quite often, but was there ever an opportunity to learn the language? Or to feel included? Possibly. But to be honest, not really. Socioeconomic situations, politics, and family had a lot of influence on those things prior to finding knowledge via the internet. As you can imagine, those things weren’t and still are not very accessible in certain regions.
I still feel a very real barrier when I visit home, I have 4 sisters. My Dad remarried and her family is more integrated with Mexican culture, so my sisters grew up Catholic and speak fluent Spanish. Even though I feel like a spectator in my life and my families I don’t feel like that is necessarily a negative thing. I can look outward and I see a place for me.