ARTIST TALK with Consuelo Jimenez Underwood
November 15, 2015 - 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Underwood is the daughter of migrant agricultural workers, a Chicana mother and a father of Huichol Indian descent. Her indigenous heritage gave her the strength and purpose to infiltrate, play the game and survive. Trained as a child to cross borders real and psychological, Underwood walks between opposing issues. Living in the middle as an infiltrator, she has learned to navigate contested territories: as a picker in the fields, as a student in school, and as an artist using indigenous weaving tradition as fine art. Her wall installations are an attempt to recreate that journey, to relive the tension of a highly volatile border region embodied by a young girl, and to re-imagine the border as a place where the spirit can roam free.
Underwood is neither from Mexico nor the United States, she is of the borderlands. She does not create textiles in the traditional sense, but uses textiles to express personal and political ideas about her Chicana heritage and experience. Her earliest memories are of crossing back and forth through the border city of Calexico from Mexicali to work in the fields of Vacaville and Sacramento. Experiencing the border as a child was both fantastic and horrifying. The border was the backdrop for her childhood, enigmatic and ever present. As a child, Underwood learned that the border was a force to be reckoned with. The fear that she experienced so viscerally at a young age stirred in her a fight for survival, to preserve her spirit, driving her to create using a deliberate language, aesthetic and message.