Postcolonial images merge with children’s pop culture to produce eerily alluring abstract scenes on Mylar and paper. Clusters of lines and layers of color dominate space, creating dense, hybrid forms. Familiar characters like Astro Boy, Pinocchio and Peter Pan are deconstructed and reinterpreted to become temporal beings and transmitters of imagined histories. These beings, and the space they inhabit, furnish an in-between reality—a reality that signals how the body both bears and transforms historical memory.
My work stems from several distinct places. Among them is the practice of acquiring, appropriating and using language. American history shows us strategies of deculturalization the U.S. conducted on school children in Puerto Rico and other territories up until the 1950s—strategies my parents remember as nursery rhymes and school pledges. Then there is the practice exhibited by my nephews on the Autism Spectrum—of borrowing lines from cartoons in order to communicate. Their interest in cartoons and animated films go far beyond childish obsession and are their source for language and communication.
As my nephews remix existing material to navigate their world, I'm drawn to comparable practices in carnival costume and mask making found in the Caribbean and West Africa. New and familiar identities are constructed from recycled fragments and debris. Objects that have their own meaning become ingredients for structures of power, spiritual tradition and tools for addressing social and political issues.
These different, yet structurally aligned practices serve as inspiration for my work. Coloring books and animation, historical references, and other appropriated images are my “found objects.” They carry their own meanings, but much like using found objects in carnival costumes, the tension between the object’s original meaning and what they are imbued with by being forced together coalesce into a study on identity formation—an investigation of race, nation, sexuality, and gender.