Visiting artist Vick Quezada

Taylor Storlien-

This Tuesday, March 19, Visiting Artist Vick Quezada will be giving their artist talk at 5:15 p.m. during the public reception of their work from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The entire exhibition runs from Monday, February 26th to Sunday, April 7th.

Vick Quezada (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist, who specializes in the exploration of hybrid art forms in Indigenous-Latinx history and how these histories function in contested lands, particularly the U.S.-Mexico Border. Quezada is currently an Assistant Professor at Hampshire College and has been a fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration. They are also the recipient of the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, which is co-sponsored by the Ford Foundation. Their exhibition is funded by the Gustavus Adolphus Fine Arts Artist Series and Co-Sponsored by the LALACS program, which is the first time that the visual arts program has been co-sponsored by another campus program.

Their art uses a variety of materials and mediums. “They incorporate found objects (man-made) and natural elements, like dirt, soil, flora, corn and combine them with found objects like bricks, reclaimed trash, chains, cans, and barbed wire,” found on the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration website. Artist Quezada “… explores hybrid forms in Indigenous-Latinx history and the function of these histories in contested lands, primarily in the U.S.-Mexico Border. They work with a variety of mediums: video, performance, sculpture and ceramics. Quezada’s work explores liberation through an approach that is rooted in queer and Indigenous knowledge, histories, and aesthetics. They draw on a Mexica spirituality that centers the power of interconnectivity, one that extends beyond gender, race, and the human experience,” an excerpt from Quezada’s artist statement said.

They draw a large part of their inspiration from an Aztec-Nahuan religious doctrine. This doctrine affirms a “two-spirit” tradition that makes the transgender body within Latinx and Indigenous traditions visible. Categorically, they are a Rascuache Chicanx artist. This means “one who repurposes and stylizes found objects,” according to the Yale Center website.

In a “post-apocalyptic settler colonial world,” Rascuache art is a “creative strategy for insurgent survival,” the Yale Center said. Quezada works to offer an alternative understanding of gender and sexuality that is outside of its typical and more dominant narratives in order to create a new world containing “erotic power and joy,” the Yale Center website said.

One of the driving factors for having Quezada come to campus is that they are “a nationally recognized Mestizx interdisciplinary visual artist,” Art Professor Nicolas Darcourt said. “Their work really speaks about what it is to live life on the border of Texas and Mexico. Within the exhibit, there are many artworks about things that impacted the everyday life in that area and different aspects of life for those people,” Sophomore Art major, Katrinna Deters said.

Professor Darcourt’s aspirations for the Artist Series exhibition were to “work with a mixed media interdisciplinary artist and to share the perspectives of a national Latinx artist. Both of these aspects for an exhibition have not been done before in the Schaefer Art Gallery,” Darcourt said. With assistance from former Bruce Gray Fellow, Dr. Alexis Salas, who was a faculty member in the Art and Art History department, Darcourt was able to find a short list of artists, one being Vick Quezada. Once Darcourt and Quezada met virtually, Darcourt “could immediately tell that their artwork was extremely personal, and the unique perspectives the artwork communicated would create a sincere connection with the Gustavus Community,” Darcourt said.

Deters finds the visiting artists informational and inspiring: “As an art major I find it inspiring and helpful to see how other artists are displaying their work and how they are creating and portraying their ideas. Vick Quezada’s work specifically is really intriguing to me,” Deters said.

Quezada will be visiting Gustavus for three days. Along with their artist talk, they have been invited to join class sessions and meet with Junior and Senior Studio Art Majors for critique discussions.

Professor Joaquin Villanueva’s class, Race & Space, has recently learned about the Mestizaje and about the identities of people who are white, indigenous, and black. When Junior Art major Rose Han, who is currently in Race & Space, saw the content matter for the exhibition, she brought it up to Villanueva as it is connected to the class content: “Since I brought the exhibition up to my professor, he had mentioned to our class that he was trying to set up one of our class periods where Vick would come in and we would be able to ask them questions to try and hear about what we were learning about in class from a first point perspective,” Han said.

Through Quezada’s art, “I’d hope that the Gustavus Community experience[s] the poignant visual metaphor which Vick Quezada forms when connecting the identity of their ancestry to the visceral nature of the land,” Darcourt said.


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