Meet Maya Escobar: a talented young interdisciplinary artist, JRC member who grew up in our congregation, soon-to-be graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago (and regular commenter on this blog…)
Here is Maya’s artist’s statement, which will give you a good sense of the artistic depth and intensely personal power of her work:
Through the performance of actual and fictitious moments of my life, I explore my personal identity as the daughter of a Guatemalan father and Jewish mother. I compare the complexities of projected societal, cultural, and gender-determined roles to the lived experiences of Latina and Jewish women in our contemporary American culture. My work translates ongoing anthropological and sociological investigation into accessible narrative forms, incorporating technical skills in multiple mediums. As a commentary to the objectification and exoticization of otherness that I have personally experienced, I reclaim ownership of myself; I transform my body as well my “self” into an object used within the performed ritual, which is then documented through analog and digital photo, video and collage.
Maya’s latest work is a called “Acciones Plasticas,” which includes four short videos that she refers to as “satirical characterizations” of the many roles that have been projected upon her as a woman of Jewish-American-Guatemalan heritage. The videos have made something of major splash in the Jewish blogosphere after they were discovered on YouTube by Jewschool. The extensive discussion provoked by the videos has been quite powerful, which, I believe, was precisely Maya’s intent. For those of us who want art to challenge, to dig deep, and to confront preconceived notions of identity, I would say Maya’s work succeeds brilliantly.
Maya has asked me to encourage you to add your comments on her blog. If you are a Chicagoland resident, you should also be aware that “Acciones Plasticas” will also be presented at her undergraduate thesis exhibition. The opening reception will take place on Saturday, March 31, from 7:00 – 10:00 pm at Gallery 2 and Project Space, 847 W. Jackson Blvd, Chicago.