Marianna Jimenez Edwards, a local Mexican American artist, displays a variety of visual art works in “Assembling Self”, a visual art exhibit inspired by her experiences as a Mexican American woman living in the United States. The exhibition is now open on the campus of the Student Union Building.
Jimenez Edwards uses a mix of media, including painting and found imagery, to depict themes enjoyed in ancient Hispanic culture, as well as the delicate and specific experience of living as a Mexican American woman caught between two different worlds.
“‘Assembling self’ is kind of what I do in most of these works,” Edwards said. “I take things and put them together to give them a new meaning that I have for them in this idea that these things are about my experience as a Mexican American woman here in the United States.”
Jimenez Edwards shared that she was particularly inspired by the symbols of Mexican culture.
“In pre-Hispanic Mexico, there was a lot of emphasis on nature and things that happened in the natural world, like natural phenomena, the sun, the moon, the stars,” Jimenez Edwards said. “Everything had meaning, everything had symbolism.”
One of Jimenez Edwards’ collage-style pieces titled “Fringe” is based on the specific experience of Mexican-American immigrants and their families.
“I did this (Fringe) in response to border detention centers and children being separated from their families,” Jimenez Edwards said. “It had a very significant impact on the Mexican American community and all communities impacted by immigration.”
Jimenez Edwards shared that this piece illustrates the fluidity of the border and the different experiences that immigrants have. It also highlights the communication between family members across the border.
“I wanted it to represent the idea that the border is a kind of fluid space, because in our minds we create this fixed line,” said Jimenez Edwards. “If you’re an immigrant or descendant of an immigrant, you’re kind of always on the fringes. You are not here, not there, you are in this intermediate space.
To present this concept, Jimenez Edwards included images such as a mother and child, the American flag, the Mexican peso, as well as real postage stamps given to Jimenez Edwards by his mother.
Jiminez Edwards shared that his own mother and father used these postage stamps featured in the artwork to send letters to each other across the border in the 1980s.
For her piece titled “Dreamweaver,” Jimenez Edwards shared that she wanted to illustrate the idea of staying true to yourself and not letting the infiltration of outside sources affect people’s view of beauty in the world.
Jimenez Edwards shared that this oil painting was actually inspired by an actual photograph taken by a friend.
“I really liked that she looked so proud in her huipil, which is a traditional dress or blouse that native women wear,” Jimenez Edwards said. “She just looks so assertive and strong.”
In this piece, Jimenez Edwards exemplifies a woman with a strong sense of identity who is proud of her culture amidst the chaotic collision of worlds.
“Ever since I was little, I noticed that everyone who wore these blouses was asserting something about themselves,” Jimenez Edwards said. “They were like ‘this is who I am, this is my culture and I’m proud of it.'”
In the ‘Assembling Self’ exhibition, Jimenez Edwards has a collection of three related pieces titled ‘Somos Estrellas’, ‘Astronauta’ and ‘Polvo de Luna’, which are a sequence of paintings that connect to each other.
These three pieces all include the image of a girl, all created using mixed media on a wood panel.
These pieces and many more from the “Assembling Self” exhibit are located at the Trueblood Pop-Up Gallery on the second floor of the Student Union Building.
The exhibition is free and accessible to all and will be open to viewers until the end of the fall semester.