Leslie Moody Castro
Dear Ms. Ruud and Mr. Ibarra,
On behalf of Mexic-Arte Museum and all the artists in Young Latino Artists 13: Everything's Going to be Okay, I feel it is important to speak out in regard to the review in …might be good last week. My name is Leslie Moody Castro, I was the chosen curator for YLA this year and I take pride in the show I have created and the artists I have chosen to work with.
Let me preface this rebuttal by saying that my Latina eyes are green. I am a Mexican-American born on the border of Texas who grew up in Austin speaking nothing but English. I learned to speak Spanish fluently in six months in Mexico City practicing with an Argentine. I speak the language with the "che" accent and can guarantee that my Latina experience is completely different from most.
It was from living in Mexico City that I learned that homogenization within "Latino-ism" does not exist. It is not a community of people that have the same stories of immigration, chauvinism or assimilation that once existed 20 and 30 years ago. As a young Latina I am somewhat removed from those issues and, while my ethnicity does influence me greatly, it is not an excuse to pigeon-hole my work or the work of all the artists in YLA 13 to a specific ideal of what a "Latino" style should be.
That being said, I do not know what it means to "see the world through the eyes of a Latino." My eyes see the world very differently from the eyes of David "Shek" Vega, a Mexican-American graffiti artist living and working in San Antonio. Shek's eyes see the world differently from the eyes of Ivan Lozano, who was raised in Guadalajara Mexico. Lozano has a different perspective through Latino eyes from Xochi Solis, whose name means "flower" in Nahuatl and who speaks very little Spanish.
It is disheartening to see that overall this review claims there is a lack of legitimization for these artists if they are not working with more "relevant" issues such as immigration, etc. I assure you that each one of these artists is working through whatever issue is relevant to them at that moment. Even more so, at what point can we stop focusing on the race and ethnicity of things, and just get to the human experience of it all?
It should also be noted that your review lacks a certain authority. It may be helpful to advise that in the future the writer or editor should check their facts. Mexic-Arte is consistently spelled incorrectly, David "Shek" Vega's rooster pieces are in a very prominent and visible part of the gallery and Lupita Murillo-Tinnen is not a chicana, nor should she be compared to one. While I thank you for your review of YLA 13: Everything's Going to be Okay, and I appreciate the dialogue that you have initiated within the art world regarding the issues of race and ethnicity, I would advise you to enlighten yourself about the world of contemporary art from Latino artists. There will not always be virgins and crosses, or altars and candles. We are moving into a different discourse and we are ready for it.
From the Editors: We regret the misspelling of Mexic-Arte as MexicArte in the review. The mistake has been corrected.