Through the portrait, I explore identity, specific to my Latino identity, in hopes to create a dialogue about what it means to be a Latina in the United States. Being able to play with the mixing around of colors and pushing paint around, that's satisfying as an artist. I want to grab colors. I see different skin tones in people, the different colors all around me, and I can pull those when I paint a portrait, bringing in to my art practice or portrait painting a socially engaging aspect to it. The arts makes it a smoother transition to be able to tap into those different social issues, and that's where I can create that dialogue with my paintings and my portraits.
I started titling my series based off of the hashtag where I found the selfies from. So reclaiming the Latina tag exists on Tumblr to counter the negative stereotype that society places on Latina women, and I paint them the size of a cell phone. They're from that conversation where I grab selfies and text as to showcase the diversity within the social construct of what it means to be Latina. Latinas can be Afro Latinas, can be black, can be white, and can be in between. Curly hair, straight hair, black hair, blonde hair, light eyes, dark eyes, and queer, non-queer, or identify as female. And that's what made it really exciting to be able to showcase that broad diversity into one word, Latina.
The art is struggle. The art is talking about struggle, and making the art is a struggle. I've never been one to go out and find the photograph. I've made it. Tintype is a very physical process, where you coat a plate, and you make that plate essentially a piece of film, and you put it in a camera wet. I'm getting into my scene, photographing myself, immediately getting out, developing the plate, making the image, getting out of the image, back to the darkroom, you know, like I'm essentially rolling around and shooting in a darkroom, all at the same time while making my own film. And I think that brings it full circle, for me. I'm making something physical, while acting physically and talking about physicality.
I think my art has a lot to do with my identity. Most recently, it's about talking about paralysis and pain or talking about the physical nature of our bodies. Two years ago, I woke up one morning in a lot of pain and, 10 minutes later, I was in the emergency room, and they asked me to stand up to move rooms, and I tried to stand up, and I fell to the floor. That was it. I never walked again. When I was in the hospital, my friends were like, "We got to get you a digital camera." And I was like, "No." I ended up getting a larger view camera because I was like, "No, if there's a time I'm gonna do it, I need to do it now." And I actually like that way of working, and I like the challenge. Be it for better or for worse, I've set myself up where I feel as though my hand has had to touch it. I've had to have that kind of physical contact. That craftsmanship aspect as why I've always been interested in the analog, the silver gelatin, the platinum, the tintype.
Right now, I'm trying to stay in the moment and just embrace what I'm working with. I think the work is a much more honest look at myself, and what my struggles are day to day.
Syncretism is the combination of two different beliefs and two cultures coming together and forming another. My name is Samantha Nieto Vargas. I am completing my MFA in Photography and Integrated Media. My inspiration for my work was my childhood beliefs. I started thinking about how, when I was young, I would interpret Disney characters into these religious figures and icons from Catholicism and combining the two. And so in one of my pieces, I represent my mom and dad praying, but the hands in prayer are Mickey Mouse's gloves. So just taking different media pop culture icons and combining them from youth with Catholic icons. So this is my communion gumball machine. It was inspired by being in church as a young child and having the impatience of waiting for what was for me the most exciting part of church, receiving communion. I painted it gold in reference to gold altars in religious art, and I did gold gumballs also to reference the communion wafers. I'm challenging practicing Catholics too. Like, even though it's a representation in the form of a gumball, would you still chew the body of Christ in this form.
When I first started the program here at Lesley, I came in thinking I'm only gonna have photos, and throughout the duration of it, I started dipping my hand in mixed media. And I've come to this stop where now I'm doing installation work, which is something I never was interested in and creating things out of ordinary objects that are just out in the world. So it's actually made me grow a lot and go in different paths that I didn't think that I could take my art into.
My name is Josh Funk, and I'm a graduate of the Visual Arts program at Lesley University. Before applying to Lesley, I was teaching part time and working as a freelance animator in Northern California. I wanted to further my education, but with a family to support and an established art practice. quitting my job to attend a traditional graduate program wasn't really feasible. I was really drawn to Lesley because of the community of artists in Cambridge and Boston, but also for the opportunity to work with artist mentors who specialize in my medium. I work in video and animation, so I was able to upload my work online and get valuable feedback from artist mentors in California, Colorado and Ohio. And during the program, I also was fortunate enough to have two critiques by visiting artists, Mika Rothenberg and Trenton Doyle Hancock, and their feedback was so valuable, and it led to so many discoveries that I know I'm going to take with me forever. Recently, I accepted a tenure track teaching position. And I know I couldn't have done that without the amazing education and resources, faculty and community of artists at Lesley.