Más Rudas on Xicana consciousness, art, and inspiration

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Más Rudas, a multimedia Xicana art collective based in San Antonio, aims to perpetuate the significance of Xicana consciousness or “chicanisma” in a contemporary context. This group of women affirm their purpose clearly, and they work in an effort “to create dialogue about social awareness, document [their] perspectives, and bring about new forms of contemporary [X]icana aesthetics.” Two of the group’s members, Sarah Castillo and Kristin Gamez, share information about how the collective formed, their upcoming show, and how they hope to contribute to a legacy of Xicana consciousness in San Antonio and the art world as a whole. Give me a brief background on the Rudas and how the group formed. Gamez: Mari Hernandez had the idea to have an all-female art show that showcased a feminist Xicana voice, which seemed to have been overlooked in some art communities. Our first show was such a great collaboration and success that we thought it necessary to establish the Xicana collective and therefore sustain a Xicana presence in the art community. What have you been doing since your last exhibit? Have you been working on any special projects? Castillo: Since our last exhibit at MexicArte we've been working on our next show at Unit B. Reflecting on the work of our last show, we are trying to work closer together, creating collectively to produce a cohesive body of work and refining our medium. The development of our new exhibit has put a lot of emphasis on organization of our ideas. Gamez: We have taken some time for ourselves. We have used this time to reflect on our direction with the collective, deconstruct and reconstruct our own inspirational foundations, and spent some quality time together. How has your new exhibit been developing thus far? What has inspired you? What will make it different from anything you have done before? Castillo: Our inspiration is the commodification of culture. Cultural commodification is a common threat to cultures all around the world but we chose to focus on ours in this city. I look forward to this next show because we have a video performance with costume, it’s a local venue, and we have a cute little house to show our work. I've never actively pursued a recorded performance in a public space while in costume. What will the thematic presence of the new exhibit speak to? Do you have a specific or holistic idea of the direction you are taking? Castillo: The exhibition's presence will focus on tourism in San Antonio and the insufficient attention on our city's social services. I hope that we can somehow collaborate with our neighbors in the social service sector in relaying the facts and deficiencies that affect our neighborhoods, families, and our schools. Gamez: Our title will be Más Triste San Antonio. Reflecting on our past work, we normally create a backdrop and theme for our work and then individually contribute a piece based on our theme. Unlike our past shows, we have decided to do a collective approach in all aspects of our installation which includes working collaboratively on the background, a video, and the chosen pieces that will be within the space. What are your thoughts on how the Rudas are helping to shape Xicana consciousness? Castillo: I'm too close to the trees to see the forest, but I have come to realize that Xicana visual arts are a form of art therapy. The process entails a struggle between intuition and logic, and my art is an outcome of this struggle. Gamez: We hope to create a dialogue with our work which has a strong Xicana intentions and perspectives. “Xicana” is a term that encompasses so much in terms of identity, and we hope to promote a new consciousness that considers “new chicanisma” dynamics that connect to feminism, activism, and popular culture. What kind of impact will Más Rudas have on the historical context of Xicanas in the 21st century? When people look back on your work, what do you want them to see? Castillo: Well at this point in time in researching Xicana art, the Xicanas who've had the most impact on me have been Anna Castillo, Eden E. Torres, Diane Gamboa, Barbara Renaud-Gonzalez, and Amalia Mesa-Bains. These Xicanas eloquently express their perspective as it relates to my own life. This connection produces a degree of self-affirmation. So, perhaps the energy that we put out as a collective will reach someone and allow them to open up, share their experiences, and elevate the belief they carry within themselves. Gamez: I would hope we have raised a new level of consciousness on the possibility of progressive art to make changes in our communities and the art scene. I would want people to look back on our work and see that it is genuine and apparent that we gave our hearts, minds, and souls to our work which we aim to be bigger than the individual.

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For more information on the Rudas and their upcoming show in November, "like" them on Facebook or contact Contemporary Xicana at cx@sacurrent.com.

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