Yesterday I posted this article on my personal Facebook page and I was deeply upset and disturbed by it. Here is Part I of this post. In the second part, I will write about my personal experience as my husband’s wife, who works for ICE. I understand that some people may find this disturbing, but my experience is also a deeply borderland experience which puts women and children in difficult oxymoronic situations. And not by choice.
To Whom It May Concern at the Oxford American:
I am writing to you about the Art Against the Wall (Issue 88, Spring 2015) article written by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. This article was a gross misrepresentation of the people and artists of the Texas Rio Grande Valley. An artist friend sent the article to me from California who wanted to know why I wasn’t mentioned, since they couldn’t find any women artists who were doing political work. I read the article with half bored interest, since they are all people I know. I was dismayed that were no women political artists to be found by Griest, except in a curious offhand remark by artist Mark Clark, the journalist’s white guide and a non-native of the Texas Rio Grande Valley. Clark said, he knew of “a talented Chicana artist with a taste for subversive art, but can’t quench it because her husband is an ICE agent”. (Side note: When I married my husband, it was pre-911 and he wasn’t even a U.S. citizen) Hijole, I find myself mentioned after all in an unbelievably racist and sexist remark that dismisses my work due to my personal relationships. I’m appalled that Griest did not bother to follow-up on such a comment and I’m very hurt by Clark’s remark because I had considered him a friend and had thought he respected my work. I am a Xicana artist, mother, and educator and have an M.F.A in Studio Art. I have exhibited my work extensively in Texas, San Diego, Chicago, Arizona, and overseas. If you can’t find women border artists, it’s because you’re not looking hard enough.
This article has a very Eurocentric male perspective of the borderlands. Mark Clark’s Art Against the Wall exhibit is not revolutionary or daring but rather an extraordinary display of privilege. White artists who place their work on the Border Wall have the privilege of doing so without any of the real consequences of undocumented brown-skinned people. These consequences include death, financial ruin, arrest, detention, and deportation. Clark positioning himself, as a political artist surrounded by apathetic brown savages is the classic Dances with Wolves white savior fantasy. The idea that people of the RGV are apolitical people fosters the dangerous myth that the plight of this region (drugs, poverty, and violence) is really due to apathy, laziness, and criminality and not violent, racist government structures, both American and Mexican. There is a Spanish saying that you hear the real radicals throw around, “Sin Mujer, no hay revolución”. Without women, there is no revolution. This article fails and it fails BIG, so it’s good thing that it’s placed in Texas, at least.
Celeste De Luna
Latest posts by Celeste De Luna (see all)
- On The Eradication of Love by the State: How a historically blended border city faces hard choices between growth and solidarity - February 9, 2017
- Sleeping With the Enemy Part II - September 5, 2015
- Sleeping with the Enemy, Part I - June 5, 2015