This past week, the University of Connecticut had the good fortune to be able to host collaborative artist Suzy Gonzalez and Michael Menchaca. These two artist boldly and bravely explore pressing social issues that often divide the populous.
Gonzalez and Menchaca met at Texas State University, in San Marcos Texas where Gonzalez received her BFA in painting and Menchaca received his BFA in printmaking. The two then went to the Rhode Island School of Design where they both received their masters.
Working together Gonzalez and Menchaca most recently produced Mestizx Nation. In this gallery the two artist explore the nature-culture split that has allowed for the oppression of female and non-human bodies. Through their work they challenge the gendered ideas of nature and culture. “Through the lens of ecofeminism, I search for similarities between marginalized groups of people and that of animals and earth, longing to regain these intuitive connections”, said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez explores this nature-culture split in her piece “Hybrid 1”. In this piece Gonzalez uses screen printing and a collage like style to convey the objectification of women and animals. Viewing the woman in the print we see how Gonzalez portrays this objectification of women and animals through the use of an hourglass for a torso and the use of different objects for the legs and breasts. Gonzalez said “I’m attracted to collage aesthetic, as it allows for the healing of a violent fragmentation.”
Entering the gallery I was attracted to “Hybrid 1” for its sense of wholeness even though it was composed of so many very different parts. Gonzalez created this sense of wholeness by repeating the same color scheme throughout the work. This muted color palate toned down the rather daring content of the work and allowed it to be palpable for the common audience. This goal to convey a message to the public through their work was a reason Gonzalez and Menchaca utilized folk art type style in Mestizx Nation. “‘Folk’ aesthetic seems most in keeping with community based work because it carries no barrier to comprehension.”
The works of Gonzalez and Menchaca are very successful works of art since they open discussion to issues that a large percentage of the population would typically be closed off to.
-By Zach Petersen