Expedition to The Xicanx exhibit @ MOA-UBC, Vancouver for Xicanx Speaks
Its 4:30am CST Friday November 18th, the alarm woke me from my sleep and I popped up to get ready to travel to the other end of the continent—Vancouver, British Columbia. The journey to the last scheduled artist talk for the Xicanx exhibit had been a long time in the making. It began in the January 2018 when I met Jill Baird and Greta De Leon for a visit in my studio. They looked around, had questions about my work and listened to my stories. One of my works was selected to be in the Xicanx —Dreamers / Changemakers co-curated by the both of them at the Museum of Anthropology at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC. scheduled to open 2022.
5:30am CST finds me at the San Antonio International Airport finding my bearings after the security check and waiting for my partner on this voyage, artist Celeste De Luna. The huge cold wave that swept across the U.S. was affecting flights on the Friday before the big Thanksgiving travel week. After some tense re-routing of flights we took off to Vancouver via LAX. The rest of the flight after LAX was a hazy waking dream that turbulence shook me out of just in time to catch Mts. St. Helens, Rainier and Baker under me. The cold lush rain forest coastal setting of Vancouver BC was a welcome site compared to our crispy golden fried fish colored lawns in San Antonio.
1:30pm PST arrived and were greeted by Musqueam artist Susan Point's "Flight-1995" the worlds largest spindle whorl. Then at the bottom of the waterfall was were the 'Salish Welcome Figures" by her as well. I had a distinct feeling of unexplainable familiarity when I looked at the figures. For me, it brought up memories of the Toltec, Olmec, Zapotec. We made our way to the UBC campus and set out to explore. Jill and Ana Neilson met up with us for dinner. Afterwards Celeste de Luna made a couple of phone calls to some of her printmaker peeps, we were lucky enough to be able to visit Master Printer Peter Braune at his studio New Leaf Editions on Granville Island. First thing I saw on a table was a large scale relief plate. It turns out according to Peter, he had pioneered large scale printing back in 1988 with dogsled dogs pulling a water drum because all the asphalt rollers were being used for road work.
6:59am PST and I needed some coffee so I set out to find it and get my bearings on the place. I took a good walk around the campus then discovered the entrance to Wreck Beach. The idea of stepping to the edge of the northwest edge of the continent was what i needed to do after flying this far north. After walking down almost 500 steps I got to the beach where I came upon some Irish vacationers swimming and sitting round a camp fire. The view to the north of Cypress Mountain was captivating sereneness that was expansive as it kissed into Vancouver Island to the south.
11:45am PST after a good brunch Celeste and I head to our rendezvous with Jill at MOA. We were going to see museum and show for the first time, meet with Jill and review for the talk and sit down for the talk. I think it that fitting and important that a show of this caliber was hosted at the Museum of Anthropology. The way I see it, The Xicanx Exhibit @ MOA presented an intergenerational survey of chicano art that recognizes time, place, space and identity thereby shattering colonial ideas of the homogeny our brownness/xicanéness. Set in the northwest rainforest the in a location that is the traditional territory of the Musqueam people the museum is nestled at the tip of the mouth of an inlet. When you make your way onto the museum you step down into it and into a great hall of large sculpture and textiles. To get to the Xicanx exhibit you are welcomed into it by older indigenous art works and contemporary indigenous artist works by Susan Pointe, Bill Reid and others as well.
We proceeded to view the exhibit as we entered and viewed the mural video documentary. This led us to the the center of the exhibit where you could get a 360 degree view of the exhibit. I immediately felt the directional alignment aspects of the exhibit.
The talk began as scheduled and there was a delightful group of people from as far as Boston and North Carolina as well as students and locals. The discussion topic was varied but circled around to printmaking with Celeste's large scale pieces placed across from my mixed media piece that harkened to the earliest method of printing—the hand or finger stamp. The idea of print being the media of the people was brought up with questions from the audience and we spoke about the Royal Chicano Air Force and about Large Scale Printing events and how they connect communities and heal. We also spoke about the need for mentorship and agency. Exhibit the like of this one establish agency for our gente. The results of intergenerational exhibits like this one establish important validation evidence when you are able to connect artists that work collaboratively within a mentorship structure. The group of artists in this exhibit know or are connected to each other one way or another, have collaborated one way another and mentor in various capacities. This example of Xicanx Art shows without apology the contemporary aspect rooted in our history. The digital organization to the exhibit presents an invaluable Educational Resource for art historians and I would highly recommend it to humanities and art educators that reveal the personal sides and interests in music, film, literature and love. The Xicanx recipes shared by themselves are enough to teach two semesters of culinary examples. Read more about what others are saying about the exhibit and please share.