Artist: Sheila Garrett Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Media: Mixed-media, Yarn, Oil
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery
About the Artist
Sheila Garrett Rodriguez is local artist studying at California State University, Long Beach. She completed her undergraduate program in drawing and painting here at CSULB and is now working towards her MFA degree in the School of Art’s Fiber program. Sheila’s work focuses on the concepts of culture, more specifically her Mexican heritage. Her culture is actually what inspired her to choose the Fibers department. She identifies as a Chicana and native Californian.
Were We Even Here consists of many different pieces, all of different medias. One piece, titled “No Trespassing: Borders and Bodies” consisted of oil on canvas, embroidery floss and yarn. “Space is Inside” included wallpaper, drywall, oil on canvas and acrylic. “But It’s Your Great-Grandmother’s Bed” included her grandmother’s bed frame, cochineal, hand-dyed yarn and embroidery floss. Other materials used for this show were window screens, plaster and chair.
The artist, Sheila Garrett Rodriguez, successfully gained the attention of many viewers during her show. It was vivid and powerful. The exhibition shows personal experiences and emotions embedded in the different creative pieces. The several pieces together explore the idea of a “home” and show how it is defined by much more than just the things inside. She refers to this idea as “home-space”. A person’s identity has much to do with the process of home building as she explains. The embroidery she adds to her art is a representation of her Mexican heritage. She shows how over time culture is lost and constantly changing generation after generation. There is a connection between a person’s culture and the home-space and that is how culture can affect the environment in a household. For example, her Mexican heritage includes ideas on gender roles which say that women are to stay home to cook and clean while men work. This exhibition brings forward many ideas about our “home” that many may not come to realize.
Walking through the gallery and looking at the different art pieces from this exhibit was a new and amazing experience for me. Being unfamiliar with art, it is uncommon for me to see an art piece and completely understand it or relate to it. This was not the case. I instantly connected with the art. I understood the underlying message because I am a Latina. What made this experience even more amazing was the instant connection I had with the artist. What started as an interview became a casual conversation. I learned that Sheila and I have gone through similar things in regards to our culture and the different situations it can cause. This was an inspiring work of art and because of it I am even more proud to be a Latina despite the obstacles we may face not only in our households but everywhere.