My current mixed-media paintings explore the environments of my homelands of southern Colorado and New Mexico, combined with supernatural spaces inhabited by transformative beings representing spirits and ancestors that take on various forms, including parts of animals, humans, figurative shapes, and elements of nature. Each character and scene offers a glimpse into their stories and worlds. My inspiration derives from my dreams, life experiences, and my Nuevomexicano and Indigenous Genízaro heritage.
This heritage has a complex and often overlooked history, dating back centuries in New Mexico when Indigenous women and children were frequently captured and enslaved during raids by enemy Native tribes and by the Spanish. They were then sold off to other tribes and Hispano families as indentured servants. Many were given the ethnic label Genízaro, defined as detribalized/hispanicized Indigenous people of mixed tribal origins descending from war captives. Over time, as Genízaros and Hispanos intermarried, their communities and cultures in New Mexico and southern Colorado merged. After the Mexican-American War in 1848, the U.S. government took over the area and implemented forced assimilation and discrimination, attempting to erase Spanish and Indigenous languages, outlawing Indigenous religious practices (until 1978), and imposing Anglo-American cultural norms on the region’s diverse communities. These policies contributed to the loss and destruction of many teachings, traditional practices, and beliefs, leading to distorted histories and many forgetting their true origins. In 2007, the State of New Mexico recognized Genízaros and their contemporary descendants as Indigenous through the State Legislature. However, we are still not officially State or federally recognized by the government as “Indian.” We continue to face various forms of marginalization and erasure, emphasizing the importance of reclaiming and celebrating our history through art, education, and other means.
Today, we carry the blood of our ancestors, and the lands still hold their bodies with the imprints of their energy. I find this powerful as I honor, explore, and reflect on the diverse connections of my past and express them through my art as an instrument of healing, resilience, and awareness while creating new narratives that are symbolic, imaginative, and still rooted in reality. My creative process usually starts with experimenting with a concept of the scene or character I want to depict while remaining open and letting the subconscious direct the painting as it evolves naturally. I use various materials, including acrylic, spray paint, airbrush, and ink, to achieve layered textures and saturated effects on paper, wood panels, canvas, and leather surfaces, giving my work a tactile quality and conveying a sense of history and depth.
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