Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Matatag Kami: We Are Resilient, conversation between artist Regina Gutierrez & curator Thea Quiray Tagle

For this next series of Storefront Window Installations we'll be pairing our exhibiting artists with other artists and curators for interview conversations. This spring we were pleased to host Regina Gutierrez's installation Matatag Kami: We Are Resilient.


Regina Gutierrez is a first- generation Filipinx born and raised in New York. Currently studying sculpture in their second year at the Rhode Island School of Design, Regina has found a multidisciplinary skill set necessary in expanding their art practice that centers transness, identity, and racialized bodies. Their work pushes forth informed concepts and self-respected mediums, embracing histories of metalwork, plaster casting, mural making, and personal writing. Actively involved in making art more accessible, they are familiar to public gallery spaces local to Long Island and Providence, including the Heckscher Museum, All County Art Exhibitions, The Baldwin Public Library, and Adelphi University, and The Providence Art Club showcasing work annually within these community driven spaces for the past 5 years. Outside of their public highschool’s art department, Regina has studied fine arts at NYSSSA, FIT, and Adelphi University, creating work that further projects their Filipinx identity onto the formally white framed gallery space. Into the periphery of their practice, Regina takes interest in Trans theory and sociology, and has been an assistant to the Head Pastry Chef at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, AKA likes baking, bikes occasionally, writes personally, and is an outspoken advocate for queer marginalized bodies within gallery spaces.

Below is a conversation between Regina and curator Thea Quiray Tagle















TQT: Regina, I wanted to begin by reflecting on the Tagalog phrase “matatag kami” that repeats in the background of your mural. It loosely translates to “we are stable” or “we are solid,” and I’d love to hear more about what kinds of solidity or stability this piece is gesturing towards. Filipino people in the homeland and in the global diaspora are often described by mainstream news outlets as “resilient” in the face of so much adversity– banding together as a community after a typhoon hits their island, or being strong despite living in poverty conditions. Were you thinking about these forms of resilience in making the mural, and/or did you have other kinds of stability in mind? 

RG: Of course! I’ve found a sense of home in being resilient through establishing community; but those forms of stability are unstable in themselves. No singular form of representation will ever capture each dynamic response to a colonized history and westernized culture. Recently I’ve been more interested in what it could mean to interrupt traditional means of stability: interrupt the impartial loving (though we are worth every moment of radical joy), I feel we must begin to meet each other’s eyes over stories of hurt. It seems counterintuitive in the way that dis-identification holds an often confused but obvious subversion of culture and code switching. I mean to say “matatag kami'' in a way that refutes everything yet still begs of embrace. I place my body between each matriarchal figure of my parent’s generation to force a dynamic sense of motherhood / being a daughter / niece / or sister to. I am only relative to any non-binary Filipinx that allows themselves queer visibility, but every moment of tension and relation held within my family proves this interruption of a generational landscape. The adaptability: the understanding cannot die. Loving is not to feel limited, it will bleed into every generation in the way pain carries too. I say this all now because stability will only come from interruption, and that is what builds resilience– even if it only begins in changing how we find each other beautiful for enduring so much. 


TQT: This mural centers a cut-out self-portrait, with two rows of faces radiating outwards from this point. The left side features the faces from your mother’s side of the family, and the right row of portraits represents your father’s side of the family. There is an interesting overlap and collision between the faces in each row, where individual features begin to blend together and where time becomes circular (no one looks older or younger than the person next to them). Can you say a bit about how you are thinking about family lineages and histories, and how your representations of your family break a linear or unidirectional timeline of understanding cultural inheritances? And do you have any specific names and stories about the people represented here that you’d like to share with the public? 


RG: I begin at the center, not as a focal point but as a base, creating hyper specific representation through varying physiognomy or obsessively projected Filipino features that become indistinguishable to a singular person. I don’t mean for it to be minimizing either. The multiplicity is ever present for me: especially in how my family history is relayed back to me.

Anyone is everyone &

From the left side: goes. 

My face laughing

Carmelita Gonzalez (my mom’s mother)

My face smiling

Laleine Gutierrez (my mom)

My face straight

Lola Apay (my dad’s aunt)

My face solemn

Grammy GoGo (my dad’s aunt)

My face gentle

Marking the similarities between each face, every expression memorialized in family photos of festivals and gatherings, it’s nice to find yourself in people you can only imagine as an extension of one singular thing. That thing simultaneously being so unifying yet torn apart: I can’t help but feel like these images from the 70’s and 80’s of relatives getting married, sharing a beer while floating in a river, or playing instruments lounging on an abandoned jeepney: I can’t help but feel like these are images of me. Similarly, I can’t help but feel there is no singular image of me at all. My face sandwiches these matriarchal figures but none of these faces are ours, they are the faces of every other face that finds itself in it too; embodying the confused generational disconnect or cultural bridge or radical joy and queer orientation. 




TQT: Related to the second question, I love the smiles of the people on the left panels of the mural. The literal and metaphoric connection between these figures is enhanced by the shared physiognomy of their mouths, but the similarities to me actually come out more through the feelings these images communicate– these folks look joyful, happy, perhaps all laughing at the same inside joke. I wonder if you think family resemblances come from shared genetic materials, or if you’re more interested in the shared cultural and social experiences Filipino folks have even if they don’t share the same blood? 






RG: Yes, entirely ! The shared cultural experience. That is what makes us, that is where I find parts of home– scattered across reference images used for this piece. The expressions allude to the stories and settings and community wherein the photos were taken. The idea of setting a hyper specific basis by borrowing these noses, my mother’s eyes, the way my grandma’s cheek bones curve when laughing, and the quiet smiles given by my great aunts– it is all to acknowledge those who understand while simultaneously projecting the representation for those that don’t live the similar experiences. It’s all so relative, but the expressions portrayed are for sharing– in every sense, between sharing the same smiles to showing you what our smiles look like.



TQT: If I can shift a little, one of my favorite aspects of this mural is its large scale and the refractions of light off the glitter sprinkled on the figures’ faces. Paired with the repeating text, these faces become queer in their excess– large, exuberant, bright. I know that you’ve only recently moved to working in this large scale– in the past year, you’ve made six murals! Can you share what working with glitter/bling on these larger surfaces has opened up for your practice? 

























RG: Visibility. Definitely excess. Etherealness. Queer associations.  The glitter was honestly an afterthought, and perhaps an easy entry. As I note in the artist’s statement, I only wanted the words “Maganda Ako” to barely bleed through the skin. Though the bleeding does not have to be as visceral: the bleeding, or seeping rather, is something that cannot be helped. I think what I enjoy most of the glitter is how it creates this contrast in all of its subtlety. The glitter grows compliant in its subversion too, it follows the rules in the color blocking and is contained by the outline of the font– I think it’s presence is making me consider more how identifiable I want to be in the face of queer art. Is the association so necessary? Does it have to be obvious? Specifically in the face of queer abstraction, I’m still trailing between the use of concealment as a form of protection in contrast to highlighting specific focal points lingering between each face I paint.

TQT: I think it is so powerful to encounter Filipinx faces in a window front mural placed on a busy street corner in Olneyville, a largely Latinx community with first- and second-generation folks from the Caribbean, Central and South America. Because of our shared histories of Spanish colonization, US militarism, and migration experiences across multiple land and sea borders, I think of us as Filiprimos to the Latinx community! Do you think this mural helps open up dialogues about Filipinx-Latinx solidarity, and/or do you want the mural to do that? 































RG: I’ve been trailing through this book “Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules'' by Anthony Christian Ocampo that a Filipina friend lent to me earlier this year when I’d shared how difficult it’s been trying to understand my body within this institution littered with privilege: RISD. I keep lingering in this one chapter, “Filipinos Aren’t Asian” and Other Lessons from College where Ocampo interviews various students at predominantly white institutions along the west coast. I found myself aligning with a lot of the sentiments shared by these students, and that reoriented understanding of what it means to be Asian in America forced a disentanglement of my Filipino-Asian-American identity from this white washed version contained by the “model minority” myth. The term in itself is a form of erasure that only further perpetuates this whitewashed sense of othering, pitting marginalized bodies against one another and rendering the oppression of Asian Americans as invisible. I used to fear cultural tourism but came to realize that reclamation of culture is so much more valuable. I only hope the mural facilitates these kinds of conversations about internalized oppression as result of colonization, or at least provides a sense of community rather than imposed identity. Understanding where I lie in relation to it all is important to explicitly representing who I am through my practice and creating an image for those alike to find themselves in too.

TQT: My last question is about food. Maybe because I was raised in a Filipino Catholic household, when I see a line of faces/individuals in a painting, my mind immediately goes to the Last Supper prints that seem to be in every Filipino dining room or kitchen. If you and the family members in your mural were having their own Last Supper, what food would be on the table? (I would hope for kare-kare with bagoong, leche flan, and pinakbet at my family table, that’s for sure!!!). Thank you so much for making this work and for taking the time to talk with me about it. Maraming salamat!  


RG: Ah, classics. 

Spring picnic style, it’d totally be a lineup of:

Definitely kare-kare too, lumpia, pork barbeque.

Fried talapia with white rice and my mom’s homemade salsa.

Halo-halo, sapin-sapin with latik, and ginataang bilo-bilo as the sweet treats !

Oh and ambrosia fruit salad, perfectly chilled– almost frozen.

It’s been kind. Thank you Thea, sincerely.


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Thea Quiray Tagle is a Filipinx femme curator, writer, and an assistant professor of queer studies and critical ethnic studies at UMass Boston. Thea is a co-curator for New York Now, a photo triennial at the Museum of the City of New York that engages themes and issues of the contemporary city. www.theaquiraytagle.com


photographer credit: erina c. alejo

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This installation and interview were made possible in part through support from the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism.



Thursday, May 12, 2022

WOW WAO WAAW!!!!

******

DIRT


PALACE


MAY 2022
 

 

A Show!!
BOCHEK
TRIGGER DISCIPLINE
COMO QUE WAO
5/14/2022 
Doors at 9pm, show starts at 9:30pm
PWYC/NOTAFLOF
$7 - $15 Suggested donation

This will be a masked event! If you want to wear a "spooky" mask over your COVID mask even better (but only the mouth masks are required) 
 

 

WINDOW


MAY WINDOW ARTIST:

REGINA GUTIERREZ

Matatag Kami : We Are Resilient.



The forms in which I exist are non-negotiable, and yet so understated.
How do I begin to uncover my Filipino body that has faded into the background behind the
facade of what it may mean to be an Asian-American? A Filipino Woman?
Everything is worth so much more, yet everything is erasive in relation to- my body, and every
body that embodies this imposed and unprotected moment of confusion through its racial
identity and gender performance and cultural relativity.

When we call on the phone, grandma, you don’t call me pretty in acknowledging all of my
queerness,
or excessive existence– how when I breathe, it feels I trail every crevice, line every edge and that
I could touch everything all at once, but it would not be engulfing or entrancing or singular.
I don’t think you call me pretty for the way I want to mutilate my breasts. June 5th they’ll be
salubriously separated from my body, and I haven’t even told you yet.
And it’s alright: transitional stages prompt disconnect, it makes family almost objective like that.
It still hurts to imagine my distant relatives in the Philippines don’t perceive me as beautiful for
the ways I actually am.
Maganda Ako.
The phrase obscures the faces of my relatives– or it would’ve if I hadn’t let it fall to the back and
only illegibly bleed through the skin.
In return, I thought it would have protected them from critique: any projections from a white
audience, and it would’ve allowed the phrase to speak for them.
Though I don’t think that’s what I meant for it to feel like.
Protection takes away from praise, there is always so much to give. Subjecting my family
members’ faces to this form of projection may seem elusive, maybe exploitative, yet it feels
necessary.

Urgent almost.
They deserve this moment, the likeness of them deserves to be taken in this way.
There is so much gratitude in finding myself between the stories and images of mothers who
cared before me; beginning to understand the way beauty lines every face, and every wrinkle
that makes up my own physiognomy.
Matatag Kami speaks on cultural and generational pain, depicting matriachs of my
family as to note forms of femininity between my non-binary body and motherhood as a
construct. Thoughts on what it means to embody feminisms have left my brain dwelling on
alternative forms of equally just and whole and devoted motherhood. In the lineup of notable
Filipina mothers, I place my body. I allow “Matatag Kami” to crown us, in all of our nurturing
and understanding and formidable presence. We project this generational landscape, a billboard
made to celebrate us, while re-identifying, re-aligning, and re-considering the colonized history
of the Philippines. It is to speak such neglected truth to the present of Filipinos,
post-colonialism, to allow space for my family’s immigrant story; space to understand queer
identities within immigrant families, identifying the disconnects, the inbetweens, and to praise
every type of mother holding it down anywhere, everywhere. I love you and thank you for caring
so incredibly/tirelessly/endlessly.



Regina Gutierrez is a first- generation Filipinx born and raised in New York. Currently studying sculpture in their second year at the Rhode Island School of Design, Regina has found a multidisciplinary skill set necessary in expanding their art practice that centers transness, identity, and racialized bodies. Their work pushes forth informed concepts and self-respected mediums, embracing histories of metalwork, plaster casting, mural making, and personal writing.

Actively involved in making art more accessible, they are familiar to public gallery spaces local to Long Island and Providence, including the Heckscher Museum, All County Art Exhibitions, The Baldwin Public Library, and Adelphi University, and The Providence Art Club showcasing work annually within these community driven spaces for the past 5 years. Outside of their public highschool’s art department, Regina has studied fine arts at NYSSSA, FIT, and Adelphi University, creating work that further projects their Filipinx identity onto the formally white framed gallery space. Into the periphery of their practice, Regina takes interest in Trans theory and sociology, and has been an assistant to the Head Pastry Chef at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, AKA likes baking, bikes occasionally, writes personally, and is an outspoken advocate for queer marginalized bodies within gallery spaces.


MARCH WINDOW ARTIST:

ANABEL VÁZQUEZ RODRÍGUEZ


Amor y Anarquía




Check out an Interview with Anabel where she discusses Amor y Anarquía and other aspects of her practice with curator Kate McNamara on our blog HERE



Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez (b. Guayama, 1977) is an interdisciplinary artist, intersectional curator, and educator based somewhere in-between Borikén and the traditional homelands of the Narragansett and Wampanoag peoples. Their artistic production explores the colonial system, otherness, resistance, nostalgia, the galactical and feminist discourse. They have exhibited, lectured and performed nationally and internationally.

____________________________________


Storefront Window Gallery Projects are made possible in part through support from the City of Providence Arts Culture Tourism Department.

 

UPDATES FROM THE PEOPLE OF THE PALACE!! 
 

 

NATASHA BRENNAN


Hello internet world! Super excited for the show on Saturday! Please stop by!!!!! I finally printed my comic- here's a page from that and a weirdo screenprint!  I've been teaching at City Arts this spring and it has been awesome! May is the craziest month and I'm absorbing it all in. In June, I'll be at the spring risd craft sale with a bunch of stuff. Every time I wear my old Bonedust tee (2006) to work (at the coffee/bakery emporium) people ask me where I got this cool vintage shirt so that's nice and wacky. I am conspiring to make my cat Thimble and Xander's dog Liv best friends but you know- cats and dogs. SEND ME A CARD AND I'LL SEND ONE BACK! xoxo 


 

ELLEN (LN) FOSTER

The cherry blossoms (my favorite) have pretty much come and gone, but I'm still amped for the Lilacs. Lately, I’ve been digging into some older live recordings while creating new ones, getting ready to play some shows. 

On April 30th I shared a live viola/vocals/beats set at Black Lace across the street in Olneyville for an event with Kai Salem,  AdaaCyberbully and Nybor. It was the first time I had played live in a *long* time and it was exciting to get back out there.



May 7th, I had an opening DJ set at the monthly Bleep and Klang event organized by symposium records. Honored to have shared the decks with the super talented Final Object and Abby Echiavarri.

Had a fun DP work day. Thanks to the help of Dan Wood and some reference videos from previous resident Daniella Ben-Bassett, the DP Letterpress is now up and running. Excited to dig into that in the coming months. Also used my newly acquired "woodshop skills" to help Pippi put down some colorful subfloor of cut-up wood c/o Xander <3 



Stay tuned:

  • Helping to put together dance party x Experimental Noise show coming up on June 4 @ Dirt Palace.
  • Forthcoming Collaborative multi-media experimental piece written and formulated with fellow questioning academic Shannan Lee Hayes to be published in Refuse.


 

KAI VAN VLACK

Hello hello. I had a busy few months. Here’s what’s been up:

I was invited to speak at the New Haven Pride Center’s Lesbian Day of Visibility. The organizer, Suyane Oliveira and I had a talk about intersectional existence as queer women of color in DIY punk. A recording of our talk is available on youtube:




Trophy Hunt’s new LP “The Branches on Either Side” will be released on May 19th on Middle-Man Records, Tomb Tree, and Zegema Beach records. The album will be available HERE after that date in both cassette and CD formats. 12” LPs are in production. In the meantime preview tracks are available here and here.


 

Reading/Listening/Seeing
George R.R. Martin - Fire and Blood
A poetic metatextual mystery pretending to be the dreary history of a fantasy world.


Rosalía - MOTOMAMI
Flamenco singer turned experimental hip-hop weirdo trying her hand at everything under the
sun and doing all of it well. This one is AOTY for me so far.


You Won’t Be Alone
What if Terrence Malick directed an A24 horror film but also what if it was good?


Best of April:


 
 
YSANEL TORRES



The City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, Department of Public Property and Department of Recreation commissioned six RI- based artists including YSANEL to design and install a mural using “parachute cloth” at Dave’s Lopes Recreation Center with Amber Art & Design. 


JOSEPHINE DEVANBU

"Venus" Carved Ivory Soap

 
 
Its been five years this month since X & P started physically working on the Wedding Cake House (there were about 8 months of planning before getting the keys). This anniversary has been both a moment of reflection and of brainstorming about how to take what has been an intense half decade, down a notch. These past five years have been full of challenges and magic, but also mostly just full of long assed days of putting one foot in front of the other. They're trying to post a bunch of pre-renovation pics on @weddingcakehouse_renovations IG this month, so if traveling back to the summer of '17 and piles of rubble is of interest, follow there.

In light of the "take it down a notch" vibe, X is making (chill) plans! She’s having wild (chill) ideas! But also she is so annoyed that it keeps not really being warm out…will today be the day that the season shifts? Pretty please!?!? Also she is sort of losing her mind about politics and is trying to cope by befriending plants and digging in the dirt, can you relate? The other thing that’s been keeping her going is Pandemic Pen Pals. Mega Mail Mash up above. (w/images of stuff that came in the mail from: Greta, Gina, AK, Stephen, James, Mike, Gaby. Shoutout to them & everyone else who’s sent stuff). X is working on a summer mailing. Unlike last spring’s mailing, the word-find won’t be all flowers and phrases like “nude popsicle” or  “daffodildo”. Unfortunately it will likely be about abortion and/or war, because dear friends, here we are again in a garbage world. If you want in on this quote unquote “mail-box-party”, send me an email with your snail mail address (missxander@hotmail.com). Or better yet drop me something in the actual mail (14 Olneyville Sq, Providence RI 02909). All love.
 
 
PIPPI ZORNOZA

Pippi gave an artist talk as part of Mobius Artists Group Spiderweb series. Check out Mobius's archive HERE to see the video of her talk as well as other artists talking about their work!

Want one of these prints below? Send something you've made (a drawing, a print, an audio track, a popsicle (don't actually send a popsicle), a manifesto, a small child) to Pippi Z, 14 Olneyville Square, Providence RI 02909 and she'll send you one in the mail FOC. Offer available till they are all gone. Don't forget to include your return address. This was originally a "friends & family" deal now extended to the "public". But whatever you call yourself, feel free to send mail in exchange.


RECTRIX Will be playing Summer Scum in NYC July 22nd & 23rd.
Which date you ask? All will be revealed.

 
 
 

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Library Hi-Lites!

MONTHLY PICTORIAL TREAT FROM THE DUSTY SHELVES OF THE DIRT PALACE

FURTHERING THE QUEST TO SPREAD FUN
LIKE GIN AND JUICE, MOSTLY GIN


Some New ones...too great not to include both: Gaby Hurtado-Ramos' Let's Get Acquainted (Lesbian Bars of Houston) and Mike Leslie's Flyer Collection. Feast your eyes & minds. 

Let's Get Acquainted




Mike Leslie's Flyer Collection:
 

 


 

 

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BULLETIN BOARD

 

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Happy Birthday Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez! Sara Wintz! Miranda Van-Boswell! Bridget Ferrill! 


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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Amor y Anarquía


For this next series of Storefront Window Installations we'll be pairing our exhibiting artists with other artists and curators for interview conversations. This spring we were pleased to host Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez's installation Amor y Anarquía.


Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez (b. Guayama, 1977) is an interdisciplinary artist, intersectional curator, and educator based somewhere in-between Borikén and the traditional homelands of the Narragansett and Wampanoag peoples. Their artistic production explores the colonial system, otherness, resistance, nostalgia, the galactical and feminist discourse. They have exhibited, lectured and performed nationally and internationally.
Below is a conversation between Anabel and Providence based Curator Kate McNamara.

KM: I wonder if before we jump into speaking about the Dirt Palace window installation, we can take a minute to discuss your interdisciplinary work and practice as a curator, artist, performer and educator? I see all of these roles seeping into each other in a way that makes your work urgent, generous and empathetic. I know you studied art-making and specifically photography in your formal education - was photography a gateway into the multiple roles you currently engage with? How?  AV: Gracias Kate! si photography was most definitely a gateway. I was fortunate to have studied photography with artist Frieda Medín at La Liga de Arte de San Juan. I was just 16 when I first signed up to her weekend b&w darkroom course and was completely blown away. Frieda instilled in me a deeply conceptual and magical way of engaging with photography. I will never forget a lecture she gave at Casa Aboy where she described how she would perfect her negatives with her fangs. Medín’s work was my first experience of the power of the personal is political. Later I attended the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, were I was immersed in a rigorous humanities program as a painting major (there was no photo major at the time) and I was immediately in awe of the vibrant arts scene and began experimenting in sculpture as performance, photography, action painting, literature, punk rock and so much more. Suffocated by the colonial US chokehold, I ended up at MassArt, Boston and in 1998 I embarked on a photography degree there and was quickly mesmerized by filmmaking and artists like Maya Deren and Carolee Schneeman. Film was to me an organic expansion of the psychological space that I was/am intrigued by in photography and led me to installation work, film programming, performance, collective art/activism, diy space programming, skill shares, and more. The camera obscura magic as a portal.
















Escalones,
AutoGaláctica series 2014 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez

KM: You participate in many communities within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and beyond and have been actively engaged in the politics and art movements unfolding over these last tumultuous years. How does transnational identity inform your work as an artist, curator and educator?  AV: wao that’s a big question! As a Caribbean colonized person, l believe my identity allows me to make palpable and broader connections among socio-political and art movements. This most definitely permeates into my practice as artist, curator and educator. KM: Circling back to Dirt Palace, can you tell me how you first became involved with the DP community and how it evolved?  AV: My first experience of the Dirt Palace was in the early 2000s as a spectator at their music, film, and performance events. It was love at first show! As a curator I exhibited the works of a few members and our connections continued to grow throughout the years. In 2016 I was asked to join the Dirt Palace Public Projects board, and have been serving ever since! KM: Let’s talk about the window, Amor y Anarquía. The window features two large-scale graphite portraits of radical women activists: Lucy Parsons and Luisa Capetillo. I wonder if you can speak to the selection and pairing of these two important historical figures for this installation, as well as the title?  AV: The title comes from the book Amor y Anarquía: Los Escritos De Luisa Capetillo I have been inspired by Capetillo’s life and writings for a while so she was a natural choice for me. In 2012 I made my first portrait of her, Doña Luisa Capetillo. Con razón o sin razón. Ha armado tremendo lío con su falda pantalón.   (Mrs Luisa Capetillo. Rightly or wrongly. Has made a tremendous impression with her trouser skirt)



"Doña Luisa Capetillo. Con razón o sin razón. Ha armado tremendo lío. Con su falda pantalón." 

2012 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez



The mix media piece’s title is from a news clipping, when she was arrested for publicly wearing trousers in Cuba in 1915. When thinking about radical women contemporary to the Tirocchi atelier to portray, I immediately thought of her, 2022 additionally marks 100 years from her untimely death. Lucy Parsons also felt like an instinctual choice, such a legendary and still enigmatic radical figure from the United States, whose legacy I was introduced to during my time in Boston. The radical bookstore The Lucy Parsons’ Center, on Columbus Ave. now located in Jamaica Plain, most definitely had an influence. It was a place to meet up, acquire radical writings, stay informed + there were weekly talks and film screenings. The major connections for me in the selection and pairing, were that both women worked as seamstresses/dressmakers, they both deeply advocated and organized for the working class and loved in radical ways. This pairing is also my way to create a bond not only between these two radical women but uniting the anti-capitalist struggle in the Caribbean and North America, through a Boricua and United Statesian whose fierce writings and speeches deemed them dangerous.


Amor y Anarquía, window installation detail, 2022 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez

KM: I know you were interested in tying in a range of site-specific, historical and contextual elements into these portraits, one of which was the relationship both activists had to making garments and the legacy of the Tirocchi sisters who formerly owned and used the Wedding Cake House as an atelier. Can you tell me about some of the formal decisions you made when drawing the clothing that so thoughtfully adorn Parsons and Capetillo?


AV: During my residency at the Wedding Cake House in the summer of 2021 I was reimagining that radical women contemporary to the Tirocchi sisters atelier would have a garment made there and/or would be connected to the dressmaking workers. These summer sketches of women were the inspiration to create these larger pieces. Some of the formal elements began when I was stenciling the silhouettes for each piece. I made a stencil using artist tape, created the background and then added details with the graphite, but some of the stronger or graphic elements emerged when I started experimenting with the artist tape itself as a mark maker. I would tear the artist tape creating more organic edges while retaining the sharp line. I used this technique to create a pattern in Parsons’ garment, accentuate Capetillos suit and tie, and both their updos. Parson’s design was inspired by one of the catalog drawings from the Tirocchi atelier collection. Capetillo is known for wearing a white mens suit, so it was important to keep that essence while accentuating the suit jacket with lines reminiscent in the  collection.
Lucy Parsons, Amor y Anarquía, process detail 2022 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez


KM: I am interested in your approach to portrait-making and how it connects to your ongoing photographic process. In previous conversations you have used the language of “operator and participant,” rather than subject.

I think this is a clear shift away from more patriarchal histories of dehumanizing and objectifying the person sitting behind the camera and instead speaks to a culture of caretaking, trust, agreement and collaboration. When you were working on the storefront portraits, did you find yourself thinking about these roles of operator and participant even within the medium of drawing and archive? 


AV: Absolutely. I kept having an imaginary dialogue with both of them. I researched extensively both their writing and lives. I felt like they were having a conversation with them like how they would want to be represented, their disdain for the bourgeois made it a lively conversion when talking about couture. 


Luisa Capetillo, Amor y Anarquía, process detail 2022 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez


KM: I really appreciate the way the portraits have a sculptural presence within the framework of the window - not only because of their scale, but the fact that they are hanging - almost unfurling. There is an objecthood to them - can you speak about your work in installation and how it figures into this project? 

AV: Gracias, I felt it was important for them to have that objecthood, I felt the space called for it. My installation work has usually incorporated projections/monitors, and cut paper life-size palm trees and objects to interact with while performing. In this project there is a departure from that, even though they are 2d works the hanging and spilling on the surface like a scroll feels in a way more sculptural than previous installation work. For this piece I was hoping for ancient-like large-scale portraits fit for a memorial or procession.  





Amor y Anarquía, process & install 2022 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez


KM: The composition so intentionally ties into the beautiful mosaic on the exterior of the building (made by Dirt Palace co-founder Pippi Zornoza). Was this a consideration from the very beginning of your installation planning?  AV: Thank you, yes, the mosaic work by Pippi Zornoza was definitely an inspiration and informed the layout from the beginning. The palette of the piece and the building, street lights and reflections were also considered. KM: Last question! Considering the role that garments play within this installation and your research, I have to admit that I am a total fan of your personal style! I wonder if you can talk a bit about your own approach to dress? Are there time periods or moments in fashion that you draw from? Personal histories that have been aestheticized?  AV: ¡Ay gracias! I love this question!  Luisa Capetillo wrote, Esta costumbre de pantalón se adapta perfectamente a la época de progreso femenino. This trouser custom is perfectly suited to the era of female progress. 1915 Though I have a collection of dresses, I love to wear trousers! Not only are they mostly practical, they do at times feel like armor. I became interested in fashion early on, finding inspiration in all the 80s and 90s magazines and music. I am currently inspired by various time periods, Victorian, 20s 30s fashion, and 90’s power suits. Blazers and a black on black palette with a tropical goth vibe.

AUTO GALÁCTICA EN EL TERCER ESPACIO, Performance ÁREA LUGAR DE PROYECTOS Caguas, PR 2014 © Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez

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Kate McNamara is a Providence-based curator, educator, arts administrator and mother. She is a staunch advocate for animal rights, moving her body is medicinal and is really hoping that one day, her ability to move objects with her mind will suddenly become manifest. 





















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This installation was made possible in part through support from the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism.