“Go West,” was Horace Greeley’s exhortation. The West meant the future, opportunity, a supposed blank slate upon which to write one’s own narrative. At least for the “young man” of his audience. But Alexandria “Inez” Garcia has been going east, to the past, on a journey to discover and explore her backstory, to more fully inform her personal narrative.
Garcia grew up a 3rd-generation Mexican-American living in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City. But she says she felt deracinated, disconnected from her past, only learning about Mexican culture through friendships and celebrations in her community rather than from her home life.
She went east to Alfred University, in upstate New York, to study art. It was only then that she learned to speak Spanish, as she pursued a minor in Spanish Literature. During that time, she went further east for a semester abroad at the Universidad de País Vasco in Bilbao, where she witnessed the Spanish “Crisis” as Spain underwent an economic collapse in 2012. She also learned about her familial roots in the Basque country, a discovery that led to the realization that her “racial heritage contains both the oppressor and the oppressed.” She says the tension of living between these two worlds influences her art making and cultural identity that still plays out in her work today.
She feels even more disconnected from her paternal side, which goes even further east. Her parents separated when she was three and her father’s family continues to live in his native Egypt. She has had no exposure to that language and culture other than what the average American might absorb “through watching the history channel and happenchance events.” Garcia speaks of living a deconstructed identity, “of living in a Mexican-Egyptian body,” and all the racism that might entail, but of experiencing those cultures from the outside.
Garcia works out of the Spectrum Studios in South Salt Lake, experimenting with casting, painting. and glass blowing. Her current project is in the sketching/ prototype phase. She plans to create a self-portrait series of life-sized figures in glass. “The paintings will be layered sheets of glass giving a physical depth with the stacking of the sheets. Each layer will be painted with translucent enamels, giving bits of translucent body parts to eventually create the entirety of the image.” She hopes to create “a visual representation of [my] permeable identity fading from one reference to the other without a place to definitively land.”
She is currently looking for a venue to exhibit the work. She will be showing other work at the Avenues Open Studio event in the fall and you can find more of her work at inezgarciart.com and on Instagram.
This 15 Bytes feature talks with artists about what is on their “easel” right now.