How do we define ourselves, what combination of work, ethnicity, nationality, family and heritage, go into the sum of who we are? The artists in IDENTITY challenge accepted norms of gender, race, education, culture, and place, offering truer expressions of their experience in this world.
DIEGO ROMERO, PUEB FICTION
Diego Romero is a potter living and working in Santa Fe, NM and a member of the Cochiti Pueblo tribe. He makes art that transcends his Native American heritage by combining traditional materials, techniques and forms of ancient Mimbres, Anasazi and Greek pottery with comic book inspired imagery, to talk about contemporary issues. Romero is a self-proclaimed “chronologist on the absurdity of human nature,” whose comic narratives often venture into taboo areas of politics, environment, racism, alcoholism, love, life, and loss. His trademark Chongo Brothers connect his work to Pop Art, inviting the viewer look at Native Indian pottery in a new way. He is married to photographer Cara Romero.
CARA ROMERO, NAOMI
Cara Romero, a contemporary photographer and member of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe of the Chemehuevi Reservation (a branch of the Southern Paiute) of the Mojave Desert, CA is a passionate spokesperson for indigenous cultural and environmental issues. Her complex and nuanced images combine traditional iconography with a contemporary perspective, bringing past, present and future into consideration. The artist orchestrates a balancing act in her photography by rewriting stories of Indian identity, battling cultural misappropriation, and confronting stereotypes, particularly of Native women, all the while preserving tradition and maintaining cultural sensitivity.
Wendy Maruyama, The wildLIFE Project, 2015. (l-r) Masaai Nights, Ghost, Orkanyawoi, Sonje, Lekuta
Wendy Maruyama, furniture maker and educator, delves into matters of ethnicity, gender and world issues in her studio in San Diego, CA. Born an American of Japanese heritage, Maruyama satisfied her artistic passions by becoming an important furniture maker in a field dominated by men and in the process, overcame challenges related to her deafness and disability. Her recent series titled “WildLife Project” was inspired by the wrongful slaughter of African elephants and rhinoceroses.
CRISTINA CÓRDOVA, JUNGLA, 2018
Cristina Córdova, sculptor, lives and works at Penland, NC, far from her homeland of Puerto Rico. Her beautiful figurative clay work is rooted in renaissance sculptural traditions and ceramics. Each piece represents our shared humanity while confronting contemporary issues of gender, race, beauty and power, and inviting the viewer’s participation.