By JUAN CARLOS GONZALEZ, student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program
This post was written as an assignment for professor Cindy Shearer’s CIA 7091: MFA Interdisciplinary Arts Workshop. As part of a community of artists working across art perspectives, students in this course get the chance to teach each other about their art form(s), practice, lineage and influences, and are challenged to inquire into the interdisciplinary arts as well as forms new to them.
It's important for me to creatively and consciously share my outlook on life with friends and mentors, because these relationships give me a sense of belonging. They also inspire me to continue to create with humility while validating my feelings. Through these friendships, I am able to explore other art forms and begin to feel whole.
Being in conversation with my friends and mentors furthers my understanding of inquiry and art in more authentic ways because I continue adding content and stories that I can transform into symbols throughout my work. For example, I recently had the opportunity to become part of Teatro Alisal, where I began exploring the use of spoken word and poetry. Our theater troupe is made of residents from East Salinas. Recently, we presented “To Querer es Creer” (To Love is to Believe).
For me this theater piece is very meaningful. Xago, our theater director, kindly put together performance that made use of personal story, and I appreciated being able to convey my feelings and emotions. Through the use of spoken word and poetry, the Alisal troupe and I were able to reflect on two-and-a-half years of planning and implementation of the East Salinas plan for Building Healthy Communities. This reflection highlighted some of the pivotal moments from various points of view—our own or someone else’s. We shared the challenges, struggles, and moments that have helped galvanize the members to realize a healthy and equitable East Salinas community.
I believe to tell our stories is very powerful and inspiring, and can contribute to social change. I want to tell the story behind the symbols and the power of color in my paintings and sculptures. I want to give voice to the forms inspired by my experiences, forms inspired by nature, and transform color onto canvas.
It has been extremely important to better understand the human condition and how it weaves throughout my body of work. I have used art as a vehicle for social change and to engage residents and youth into healthy and meaningful development through creative expression. There is something about sharing my art and new art forms with everyone that inspires me to keep creating and to deepen the content of my art and conversation.
I feel very blessed for the friendships and mentors who contribute to my learning. Perri McCary, Luis “Xago” Santiago Juarez, and Carlos L. Cortez “Quiensave” have inspired me and kindly shared their art forms and I am thankful for that. In return I want to contribute to my community ways to create safe spaces for everyone to enjoy, and to be part of something meaningful, where people feel a sense of belonging, relate to each other, heal, and create pockets of peace.