I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Zulma Aguiar at this years College Art Association conference in Dallas, Texas. I had been following her work for quite some time and became determined to create a portrait of homegirl when we finally met face to face. After photographing her at the conference center this portrait is one of the results.
Zulma is a multimedia artist and activist; her writings can be found on her blogs Chicana Feliz and Chicana Feminist. What I admire most about Zulma is that she has taken on the monumental role of chronicling the work of artists, activists, and performers throughout the United States. Her scope is international but Zulma has really focused and captured so much of what Chicanos are working towards these last few years. Zulma’s documentation, reviews, and reports on contemporary Chicano artists and their work will provide for our historical canon in years to come. Every time I see a status update from her she’s travelling to another art opening or performance event like an unwavering Chicana energizer bunny. Homegirl’s path is in the footsteps of my friend and neighbor Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez whose 500 Years of Chicana Women’s History and 500 Years of Chicano History have filled such a gap.
Zulma is an amazing artist in her own right. Her work has taken on identity, the culture of our borders, and femicide in Mexico. I have taken a lot of inspiration from her video What is a Chicana Feliz? In defining my own self-image as an artist. I actually completed this artwork about a month ago but agonized over the background for quite some time. Initially I wanted to create some sort of border wall but the results were all too grim. The background I ended up creating is a hybrid of two current aesthetic influences: Communist propaganda posters and El Chapulin Colorado.
I want to create another portrait of Zulma soon because she is a woman of many looks. Since I shot the photo this image is based on, homegirl has switched up her style a good number of times. More to come soon.