The work week is so scheduled — drop-offs, pick-ups,7 meetings a day – that on the weekends, it’s all about taking the time to loosen up, take it slow, and lose track of time. It means taking the time to make a pot of organic lavender earl grey, cook up some waffles with T, and actual read the paper. During the academic year, when every hour is accounted for, each email needs a response, it makes it even more critical to take time to unplug from Outlook and make time for myself and the family.
This was a tough week that required a lot of emotional connecting, empathy, perspective taking, and breathing. Where you spend most of your time, who you spend your time with, and what you spend time doing — these all weave into the daily fabric of a life. When people are struggling, when the mission goes awry, what is the most human way to respond? How do you align your moral and ethical beliefs with your work 100% of the time? Is it OK if it only aligns 80% of the time?
The saving grace of the week is an amazing class I’m auditing on Native North American Art. It’s a fantastic seminar with great reading assignments, fantastic guest speakers, and thought-provoking material. Most importantly, it’s a moment to heal and connect with and through indigenous art. It’s an anti-colonial space that reminds me of the other anti-colonial spaces that I sought out in graduate school. Demian Flores’s community art space in Oaxaca, La Curtiduria. The offices of Kaya Press and the people who publish cutting-edge literature from the Asian diaspora. Classes in American Studies and Ethnicity. The amazing female interlocutors I met at UCSD.
I’m longing for that type of unapologetic, brave, intersectional, soulful, healing, dynamic, un-self-conscious partnerships. Was inspired yesterday by the incredible work of Jami Powell, who I had the privilege of hearing in the seminar. Felt moved by the incredible work of Luciana McClure and Nasty Women Connecticut, who opened the show Complicit: Erasure of the Body last night to a huge attendance. Am inspired by these women and doing what I can within my own museum to breathe this kind of liberatory spirit into the work.
I’m reading Teresa Eckmann’s fabulous book Neo-Mexicanism: Mexican Figurative Painting and Patronage in the 1980s, where she introduced me to these amazing image from a state-sponsored Mexico86 World Cup advertising campaign that I’ve never seen before. Still working through an interpretation of these.
There’s kind of this mandatory Diego-Frida obsession that I think everyone goes through at some point or another when hanging out in D.F. Despite the fact that there are a ton of talented artists to come out of Mexico, they are the quintessential pair that epitomizes the idea of “Mexico” for most foreigners. Though always hesitant to buy into that kind of popular hype, I’ve got to admit that there is something really compelling about their work and their story.
I’ve already seen the murals in the Palacio Nacional, so I thought I’d head off to the Secretaría de Educación Publica to check out the murals there. Though less relevant to my research topic, they were still quite powerful — especially the Wall Street Banquet, a personal favorite. Today’s Diego-Friday in D.F. excursion is to the Museo Frida Kahlo in her old house on Londres 247 in Coyoacán.
I made a last-minute trip to Mexico City to meet up with Demián Flores before I head back to San Diego on Friday and I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first. I had only spent a week in D.F. and that was over 3 years ago. I love my Oaxacan life, friends, and food, and I didn’t want to leave all that behind for the big city. Despite my initial hesitations, I’ve had a really amazing time here and my time with Demián was fantastic.
After flying in and dropping off some things at the Hotel Marlowe (good budget option close to Bellas Artes), I headed off to visit the museum that Diego Rivera designed to house his Pre-Columbian artifacts — the Anahuacalli. After a metro, train ride, and 10-minute walk, I arrived at this imposing monumental structure (a modern temple of sorts). Not only is the building impressive, but the collection is quite amazing and every detail from the mosaic ceilings to the contemporary art installation really resonated with the research that I’ve been doing. The small craft fair was a bonus, as was actually understanding 90% of the Spanish-language tour, proving that I’ve finally gotten to a good level with the language.
7PM-9PM: check emails & dissertation stuff at La Jícara
This is definitely not a vacation, but a seriously exhausting research trip, compounded by the fact that I’m doing field work this weekend in the Mixteca. I love everything that I’m doing, but I definitely need a cerveza at the end of the day (and some Mad Hombres streaming from Netflix). I saw this random poster in the street and it’s kind of a humorous relief from all of the political mania happening in Oaxaca.
I’ve been meaning to visit museo case de la ciudad for a while and I was walking to the collectivos for my trip to San Agustín de Etla to visit CaSa, I had the chance to stop by. I’m trying to come up with a list of great libraries and places to study in Oaxaca, and this is definitely one of them. Although they don’t have a great selection of art history books like IAGO, they have a great courtyard with free wifi and a really friendly staff. They also have great hours (until 8PM including Sundays), so it’s definitely going to be on the list.
They also have this really awesome map of the city that lights up when you enter the room. It’s not too hard to orient yourself based on the major landmarks, but when I went to try and find the house that I’m living it, I couldn’t find it. They also have great old maps of the city, and I wish I had more time here to do more research on the history of the city itself. They apparently have really great archives that date back to the colonial period and I’d love to check them out, but I have to stay focused on my dissertation project (humph). Anyway — check this place out the next time you’re in town.
I arrived in Oaxaca City at 7:30AM yesterday and headed directly to my house family’s home to eat a quesadilla and collapse into bed. When I woke up, the other student staying in the house mentioned all the tents that were blocking her view of the zocalo because of the teacher’s strike. One person’s annoyance is another person’s excitement. I had heard about the teacher’s strikes since 2006 when the APPO was formed and violence broke out around Oaxaca. Although I definitely do not hope for the same police oppression and turmoil in the city this time, it was an interesting experience to see the teachers and what this whole movement is about.
I tried taking a few photos of the tents, flyers, banners, and books, but I felt a bit awkward doing so. I also tried to listen in on some of the discussions and pick-up some materials, but to no real avail. I didn’t see many other foreigners hanging around and even though I knew it was safe to be there, I definitely was the odd-woman out. I still haven’t figured out exactly what’s happening, but it seems from online news reports that it has something to do with demands regarding unemployment benefits and mandatory standardized testing. I’m going to try and find out what’s happening in more detail, but overall, it’s quite an experience to see an occupied Oaxaca.
I’m at the Sutro Library trying to get as much done as possible before they close for 2 months. I’m looking at anything related to Eufemio Abadiano in their collections — and I mean anything! I’ve included a sample of receipts for you to get a sense of how detailed the receipts are, but, alas, the receipts aren’t exactly what I’m looking for. Sure, it’s interesting to see who bought what book, or how much you paid for a few candles each week, but all the documents are before Eufemio’s time. There are some books that the Abadiano’s published and I’ve been able to track their relocations across Mexico City (or perhaps just the foundation of multiple stores). AND the most exciting thing is that I think I figured out how Abadiano got his name (from the town of Abadaño in the Basque region of Spain!). All that is super fantastic and are pieces of the puzzle. But I’m not quite there yet. I have to get there in the next 2 days though. And that’s the trouble with research on a limited time frame.
I am a bit of a reality tv junky. When I work from home, I allow myself a one-hour lunch break in which I usually watch one downloaded tv episode on iTunes from my season pass. While watching one of the assorted Kardashian shows, I came across this map seemingly depicting the k-girls flying from Hollywood to some exotic destination and I had to screen capture it. I love the idea that Los Angeles is in Mexico across from Baja California. How the producers, editors, anyone didn’t catch this, is beyond me. But it brought me so much joy and I’ve been dying to post this ever since I saw it.