This weekend, I went to an art show called “Fantasía Fantástica: Imaginative Spaces and Other-Worldly Collage” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  This features the works of four artists, all of whom create using a variety of found or repurposed materials.  Although all four artists are considered Latina/o, they work outside of the (to quote the brochure) “narrow definitions of what is considered Latina/o art.”

As Peter said last week: “Art is an ongoing conversation the future is having with the past,” and this show seemed built around that idea.

A Different Look

A Different Look

One of the reasons I wanted to see this show was because it involved collage and the use of unusual materials.  Rachel Muldez, for example, uses materials from nature: oak galls, magnolia seed pods, bits of wood or stone, tiny dried vines.  Nick Abdalla builds abstract sculptures from a variety of found objects, including wickerwork, placemats, animal horns, and scrap metal.  Color was downplayed in the majority of his works, which invited the viewer to look more closely at the shapes.

Cynthia Cook’s and Carlos Quinto Kemm’s art fit more closely into what people usually mean when they say “collage” in that the works were flat (more or less) and were intended to be hung on a wall.   That didn’t mean they were in the least “same old, same old.”  Cynthia Cook uses found objects – or as she herself calls it “trash metal, trash glass” – as not only elements in the collages but in creating the frames.  Carlos Quinto Kemm’s multi-layer collages are so densely populated with images that the three of us (I went to the show with Jim and our friend Michael Wester) spent a great deal of time exploring the details. “Did you see that tiny monkey in the corner?”  “Is that a turtle or a griffin?  “I really want to know the story behind that woman.”

Another reason I wanted to go to this show was the promised fantasy element.  I’ve seen many SF/F art shows.  These are always fun but, after a while, a degree of sameness does creep in – and not only due to the fact that certain artists mail their contributions to shows all around the country.  There are always dragons (and I like dragons), vampires, fairies, as well as works inspired by visual media productions – both new favorites and older “classics.”

I wanted to see what Fantasy meant to people outside of the SF/F community.  Certainly there were similarities such as mermaids and dragons, but there were differences too.  Religious elements –  and not only Christian – had a larger place.  There was a sense of a dialogue between a historical culture and an evolving present.  Mystical searching seemed to reverberate though many of the works, an impression confirmed by the artists’ statements accompanying the show.

Among the interesting elements was the time these artists were willing to give to permit a piece of art to evolve or to find the right place for a particular found object.  Several of the artists mentioned how a certain item might stay in their studios for years until the time came to use it.  Lately, maybe because November is NanoWriMo, I’ve seen a lot of emphasis on working hard and fast – as if that also means working at one’s best.  This show was a good reminder that a work that takes weeks or months to write may be years or even decades in gestation.

I found a bonus in the statement that accompanied Nick Addalla’s work.  He’s been involved in various forms of art for over forty years, and is recently retired after being a teacher at UNM for twenty.  About his current work he says: “I am learning to PLAY again…  Hours and hours of serious and totally involved play, getting lost in the MAKING.  No ambitions.  No goals.  No need to justify.  Just doing.”

That really spoke to me.  After years of writing to deadline, wondering what the next job will be, I’ve been doing a lot of creative “play” that has been very satisfying.  I’m feeling happier about my recent decision to permit myself a chance to explore my own creative ventures with less concern about where the story might “go.”

Seriously, these narrow definitions can really impede a writer’s creativity.  A couple of weeks ago, I came across a plaintive Twitter post from a well-known YA writer who was commenting on her own work in process:  “Is this even YA anymore?”

Should she need to worry about that?  Shouldn’t she just be permitted to write the best book she possibly can?  But the fact is that, in these days of “if you like this, you should read that” marketing, stories often aren’t permitted to be themselves, they’re trimmed and altered so they can be presented as a “portal story” or a “space opera” or a…  Well, you get what I mean.

In the handful of days since we saw Fantasía Fantástica, I’m already seeing the world  differently.  A friend sent a beautiful card.  I’m saving it with a future collage of my own in mind.  I’m smiling as I think about the short story I started last week, a story inspired by my allowing myself a foray into visual art.  It’s all good.  In fact, it’s all great!


3 Responses to “Reimagining”

  1. Peter Says:

    Synchronicity aside, this sounds like an absolutely fantastic show.

    Pardon me while I wistfully price return tickets from Phnom Penh to Albuquerque…

  2. henrietta abeyta Says:

    Old days, new days, Present, Past, Future, I believe if it’s a family member or a friend you mention this The Wolf’s Boy book to especially positive like Jane Lindskold herself. The Wolf’s Boy it’s one of the plain Disney Chapter books.

    The Wolf’s Boy, it’s a chapter book I find much better than the Jungle Book. Mowgli’s story from the original author can make me cry, but this plain Disney chapter The Wolf’s Boy doesn’t have any of the same problems it’s just both young boy wander the wild for quite a while with wolves as their close friends. You’ll enter Ice Age days with the outcast kid Kai in this Disney chapter book The Wolf’s Boy.

    This Ice Age time kid Kai has a bit of a happier story, he has more luck than Mowgli. Kai was given to a wolf pack, however one day his mother heard his unique howling and his house was built next to the same wolf pack’s den. So unlike poor young Mowgli this kid Kai didn’t have to leave either one the wolf pack or the his human family. The other big difference is Kai listens to this wolf pack that lives almost next door to his house but he’s grateful for the help the mother wolf gave him years ago when he was still a baby, so later Kai hears a sad wolf pup who can’t survive without milk and tells the same wolf pack he’ll save her. And so this sad wolf pup and the outcast kid Kai become great Ice Age friends.

    If You’re Like Jane Lindskold or Me You’ll Realize the wolf pack that Kai was given to actually tried to help him, I see no other reason the mother wolf would lick his weak curled leg more than his straight one kind of nonstop, plus the same thing happened later with a wolf who recognized Kai. (Kai’s curled leg licked again)

    There are quite a few things Mowgli misunderstands, but Kai’s just a kid who’s strong even with a curled leg, but his people consider him an outcast that they’re all scared of and call cursed. It’s the female wolf pup who still needs some milk, who encourages and consoles Kai simultaneously. When she’s a wolf pup just the right height to start practicing main hunting steps she helps Kai find his place. And when Kai feels like he’s finally found his place he’s also ready to return to his village.

    There’s Always A Place For Us. Nature, Ice Age years, Wolves, and Disney Entertainment related to this chapter book. I myself consider The Wolf’s Boy one of the best feral tales for grade school kids and teens too.

    Jasmine Olson sharing some enthusiasm with one of the feral tales she considers enjoyable.

  3. henrietta abeyta Says:

    Kai and Uff
    (Uff the wolf’s name it’s the sound she made in front of Kai’s family)

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