Karina A. Monroy

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Definitions of femininity within Mexicano/Chicano culture drives my work. I explore and question these definitions in relation to my own identity as a Mexican-American woman. I examine the women in my own family and investigate how their own identities have been shaped by these expectations of “womanhood”. Like most first generation immigrants, I have found that I must navigate between two cultural worlds, choosing what to discard and what to embrace from each.

Visual art has become the method through which I negotiate these decisions, crafting my own identity as a Mexican-American woman. My practice involves identifying ordinary objects that are associated with femininity and motherhood: spoons, recipe books, and staple foods in Mexican culture, such as nopales and maize. I reproduce these objects by hand, and in doing so, draw aesthetic attention to otherwise overlooked aspects of Latina/Chicana visual culture.

Needlework has a dominant presence in my work, as it is often associated with womanhood and domesticity. The process of working in such forms triggers a feeling of humbleness, as each imperfect stitch is executed by hand. Patience and attention to detail are vital ingredients in the production of such work. Bringing attention to these everyday “domestic” objects makes the viewer question their significance. Suddenly a spoon is no longer just a spoon, it is important now, it has a presence. The spoon has power, and by extension, so does the woman.