I feel like I am constantly straddling a border. Not quite Puerto Rican enough, American enough or Queer enough and my work is an attempt to understand those distinctions.
My current artistic practice is dedicated to material explorations and the language of flags. The emblem of a flag is used to construct meaning and identity serving as a mirror for examining the cultural self.
By using transparent or reflective fabric to create a flag, my work suggests flags are not just about who they represent but also about what they reflect. The act of deconstructing and reconstructing a Puerto Rican and an American flag to create a new one, embodies my family’s struggle of assimilation–of losing and rebuilding a home
The striking combination of black and white often used in racing flags has given me the opportunity to investigate ideas surrounding boundaries, race, and identity relevant to our culture today. Traditionally the half black, half white "unsportsmanlike conduct" flag is often waved to signify a driver is for example, cheating and pushing another car off the track. The "disqualified" flag which consists of a plain black design with a white "x" across it signifies a driver has repeatedly displayed unsportsmanlike conduct and is no longer being scored in the race. The resemblance of the "disqualified" flag to the Confederate flag is uncanny.
My research has also led me to consider the connotations of flags in noun (flag) and verb form (flagging). This has brought me to the fringes of masculine culture - gang banging and gay cruising.– where flags and flagging have a prominent role and where clothing has served as a subversive tool for expressing human relations.
In both gang and gay culture, the feminine patterned bandana fabric has represents the act of identifying, or flagging, oneself. In gang culture, color is one of the most visible displays of allegiance to a particular gang. In the 1970s gay culture, bandanas were the basis for the "hanky code," a color-coded system for communication of sexual interests and fetishes.
I use the bandana as an example of socioeconomic cloth, one I associate with my own upbringing. By flagging and introducing this icon into a gallery setting I seek to call attention to the vast space between the art world and various communities of so called outsiders. Exaggerating the scale is a literal and symbolic gesture of intervention, a way of colonizing and claiming my space in the world as a queer, Latina, woman from el Barrio.
The value of art rests in its ability to communicate across barriers.