Artist: Sheila Garrett Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery
About the Artist:
Sheila Rodriguez is an LA-based artist currently attending CSULB as a graduate to obtain her MFA. She also attended CSULB as an undergraduate and specialized in drawing and painting. Her favorite food is Mexican cuisine, mainly tamales. She comes from a Mexican background, and this show was created to represent her heritage. Her mother’s side has been here in America for many generations, and her grandfather comes from Mexico City. Her family lived in a time when the United States was segregated. Although they kept their traditions alive through weaving and embroidery within the household, they had to assimilate to the different culture outside their home.
When you first walk into the gallery, your eyes are immediately drawn to the wooden bed in the center of the floor. In the middle of the bed, there were some woven multi-color threads. On the walls of the gallery, there were a multitude of different pieces that represented the home. One piece would be a screen that you would find on a window, another would be a piece of wall that seemed like it was just knocked out of a home and placed in her gallery due to all the cracks and uneven edges. All of her pieces had one aspect that tied them all together: the woven pink roses made out of thread. In another part of the gallery, she had projector in a dark room that displayed a video of someone crushing corn, relating her back to her roots.
This gallery was meant for her to piece together her heritage. She uses furniture to convey this message because it is something we all grow up with and is passed down from generation to generation. She uses features of the house to symbolize the line between the outside world and one’s private area. This concept can be traced back to her childhood, a time when she freely practiced her heritage inside the home, but had to maintain a different identity when she stepped foot outside. She then begins to question the idea of identity and asks us to think about it as we walked around the gallery.
This was an interesting gallery because it was based off the regular things we see at home everyday. The bed, the window screen, the chair. However, we all begin to take these things for granted because we see it everyday in our lives. It really made me think about how much these everyday items shaped me. Of course, I knew that the way I am today is the product of how I was raised in my home. But the way she incorporated the physical features of the home was very unique and different. These physical features tells us about our heritage. For example, in my home, we have things that make it distinguishable ours. We have an alter to represent our religion, we have porcelain plates from Vietnam, etc. These things represent our culture and identity and I don’t know if I could really be the same without those things.