A somewhat self-centered view of living in one of the most talked-about cities in the U.S., from a bona-fide Santa Fe native.
Sunday, January 18, 2009


Last night was the opening of "Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas" at 516 Arts on historic Central Avenue in Albuquerque. I can honestly say I have never attended an art opening where there were so many in attendance. It rekindled my faith in what we artists work toward, giving the public an opportunity to view what we do. The place was jammed with people who stopped to look at each piece with genuine interest. There was a lot of buzz going around the room, accompanied by a three piece group of musicians who kept the crowd clapping for the entire two hours.

I met Delilah Montoya, one of the curators of this show, a couple of years ago when I participated in a group show about illegal immigration at Patina Gallery, "Hiding in Plain Sight". She asked me if I would be willing to participate in a show about "Bad Girls" and I said sure, assuming that it was artists painting/creating bad girls. About two months before the show I started receiving information from the Gallery about the participants and the art. It was then I discovered that this was going to be about Bad Girls creating Bad Girls! I thought, Holy Smoke, do I want to do this? I'm neither Chicana nor Latina, Loudmouth nor Bigmouth, and least of all a feminist, which is what the artists in this show were being touted to be. When I expressed my apprehension about not wanting to be perceived as that kind of artist, I was told that much of the "potentially offensive" art would be hung upstairs, and the remainder would be downstairs. I then had the choice to opt out and they would understand. Well, I had already prepared my pieces: Catgirl Rising and a painted box, "Bad Girls of the Bible", so I decided to stay in. I was glad that I did, because the show is a beautifully hung exhibition with some really incredible art. Yes, there was Alma Lopez with her usual depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe clad in a floral bikini, but hey, that's her art, not mine. I still feel Our Lady should be depicted with reverence and respect, but I don't feel compelled to denigrate another person's art, particularly if they feel that's what they're doing.

The show was presented as: Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas brings together three generations of Chicana artists around the theme of hociconas, which means loudmouth backtalking women, malcriadas - bad mannered mujeres, in short, disorderly, disruptive, critical-thinking, strong Chicana/Latina women telling it like they see it. Through photography, painting, drawing, performance art, installation, sculpture, untraditional craft forms, graffiti/stencilling and paper and fabric fashion designs, the work of these artists talks back to unjust power in visionary and necessary acts of courage aimed at greater social justice.

I'm not sure if my pieces met that criteria, but they were well received nonetheless.

All of the participants are well-educated and highly respected Latina/Chicana artists. Laura E. Perez is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC in Berkeley, Delilah Montoya is a professor at UCLA. Her photographic work has been widely exhibited and at this show her photographic assemblage took up most of one wall. More than anything else, I felt a little out of place, my roots being here in Santa Fe and having absolutely no connection to this burgeoning movement of women determined to evoke our innermost feelings through their art. Perhaps it's because I have a quiet nature and don't feel much like a "Bad Girl". While the fashion show and performance was on, I stood next to a man who pointed at my artist tag on my jacket and then to the Catwoman piece in the catalog. After a short conversation I told him I thought my Bad Girl days were over, if indeed they had ever existed. He smiled and said, "Oh, you look like you might have been a bad girl at one time." He said that in the nicest way, and I added that if that was true, at my age my bad girl days were probably all behind me!

Posted by Marie at 9:53 AM
Labels: art, artists, biblical, chicana, feminist, gallery, latina, sculpture


2 COMMENTS: said...
Marie, why would you (or any artist for that matter) participate in an exhibition which is about identities (Chicana/Latina, feminist, "bad girl" meaning to me an activist and critical thinker) you do not meet or identify with? Especially since you are risking being labeled as such? As well as taking up the space and exhibition opportunity of someone who does identify that way? And then dare to criticize artists in that exhibition who are Chicanas, feminists and activists/critical thinkers? Are you that desperate to exhibit?

January 19, 2009 4:18:00 PM PST
Isis Rodriguez said...
your blog inspired me to respond to you....i'm glad you spoke out about the Chicana Bad Girl show...cause if anyone calls themselves, a 'badgirl' well, someone's gonna call them on it..i think that "bad girl" is a 21st Century fantasy word for: " women who need to empower themselves." i know plenty of girls that I would call bad, who are serving time in jail for doing stupid things, like drunk driving, beating people up, murder, etc. instead of the nobler things like protesting wars and civil rights...and some of those girls don't think they are bad at all for doing what they did...i've had a sketchy past myself and did some bad things that i'm not proud of and for me bad is an embarrassing that i'm being open, i have to ask myself: "why did i let myself be in this show?" i guess its because of the feminist obligation to be always support your own....but deep down, i wish i could be in white male art shows that would be bad!!!!
thanks for listening,
isis rodriguez

January 20, 2009 1:05:00 AM PST