Artist: Sheila Garrett Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Media: Mixed Media, Fiber
Gallery: CSULB Fine Arts, Gatov-Gallery
About the Artist:
CSULB student, Sheila Garrett Rodriguez is working towards her MFA in the Fiber Program. Rodriguez is Chicana and a native Californian. Although she has lived in over 30 homes, she was able to make herself feel at home every time. Her parents met in Westminster, California and one day the school came to her grandfather’s house and advised them that they couldn’t speak Spanish. Her grandparents were segregated and Rodriguez is trying to piece together her heritage.
In the center of the gallery is a brown wooden bed frame. Rodriguez was able to incorporate red embroidery from the head of the bed frame to the foot of the bed. This is unique because beds help piece the room together, she was able to incorporate crochet and embroider into the room to make it her “home” her heritage. Another interesting piece was a wooden frame with a net across. Displayed are colorful, Mexican embroidery flowers on the corners of the frame and across the frame. Similarly, there is a wooden chair next to the door that is of the same design and has the same red embroidery across the seat of the chair. Another piece that caught my attention is a oil painting titled “No Trespassing, Borders and Bodies” of a human body from the back. It is of a bare back and a house as its head. On the house and body are similar Mexican embroidery designs as the frame piece. The hands are tied by a barbed wire. The house is also held up . This was a very moving image because it’s the heritage is spewing out from the house, but it’s also being held up by barbed wire.
The house is an important part of communicative system through in which people exchange information about their status, values, and meanings. Rodriguez states that houses can change dramatically from one family to another. Placements of wall decor and furniture are examples of how homes can differ.
Rodriguez poses the question, “Is one’s identity while expressed though the home also defined by the home-space?
I definitely do believe my identity is expressed through my home and is also defined by the home-space. I am a first generation Cambodian American. I can listen to short phrases in Khmer, but I can only reply back to my parents in English. As a Cambodian-American, my house reveals a lot about my identity. My house has combination of Asian decorations as well as modern, American furniture. I have a huge painting of Angkor Wat on my living room wall. I also feel that my house is quite Americanized. My living room also has a retro-looking carpet with orange leather swivel chairs. Last year, I was walking around a vintage shop called Urban Americana and I stumbled upon the same couch in my living room.