By JUAN CARLOS GONZALEZ, student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program
This post was written for Cindy Shearer's CIA 7712: MFA Project. In these blogs, students are sharing their discoveries, reflections and learning as they enter the process of creating a body of art work and culminate their degrees.
I am reflecting on how brush strokes, color mixing, and texture allow me to weave my emotional responses to imagery and make meaning in this untitled painting, oil on canvas 55” by 50”.
When I started this painting, I was making an inquiry into my feminine side and how I navigate different spaces where life and death are themes. Life-making decisions are fragile and sensitive for me and when I am painting, I engage myself completely in the processes. For example, I feel that when I am in the process of painting, I have the opportunity to follow the paint where it takes me. When making fragile or sensitive decisions, where and how do I use the paint? These questions have an enormous effect on which colors I want to mix: what do they mean to the process and within the context of the painting. I am making an inquiry into my feminine side because we are all mothers. We give birth to our creativity and our art forms; this affects the painting process as it gives birth to new imagery and color themes.
During the journey of making this painting, something really interesting happened to me. In response to my personal inquiry, my consciousness expanded. I continue reflecting on how this painting really embodied what it means for me to reside in the paint and in my feminine side.
While painting, I become more aware of how my feminine side really allows me to be myself—it allows space for emotions to be born without judgment and for the illumination of the imagery and colors that are used throughout my body of work.
Vibrant colors and imagery give birth to my indigenous roots; on both sides of the painting, the leaves holding on to the two embryos show the meaning of balance and equity among people. For me, the imagery in this painting evokes a sense of fragile femininity and a collective consciousness.
The image on the central circular form is the moon, the earth, and the sun at the same time, because this is how I interpreted the collective consciousness. This allows me to create meaning based on how we are connected to these universal elements and how my indigenous influences are manifested in my work.
These images of the sun, moon, and earth keep showing up in my paintings because my indigenous roots are strong and are reminders of how Mother Nature nurtures us and how the sun comes for everybody.
I am invoking diversity by using different colors; this is very important for increasing visibility and voice in the communities in which I reside. Color is a common thread that unites my body of work in painting and it is a way to make sense of the different dimensions throughout the canvas.
Throughout this painting, I noticed how I visually nurtured the presence of being in color. I was drawn to the opportunity of opening the door to a conversation with peers about addressing my feminine side and how this has impacted my life in ways I am very proud of: in my family, in my communities and with my closest friends. This has allowed me to become more confident in my own work. Being in conversation means that we are informing each other.
I used the palette knife to create texture; I felt that in this painting texture was an important element in creating a visceral response. Creating geometric shapes like the ones cradling the embryos allows for other responses, such as nurturing life and our soul. The equal signs illuminate the meaning of equality and equal rights for everybody, including nature and animals.