Arlene Carranza — “Indigena por Vida” (Indigenous for Life)
Bio: I’m a Mexican-American girl that doesn’t speak Spanish very well, at all. My parents came to this decision based on their experience: they were bullied for having accents, had trouble in school with their writing and reading, and ultimately didn’t want my siblings and I to be discouraged from education. I believe my parents did [what] they thought was best at the time, and it is disheartening that American society made them come to that [conclusion]. It deprived me of that opportunity from the start. I got bullied anyway, despite my parents’ best efforts, because of not knowing fluent Spanish. My negative experience mainly stemmed from the Mexican community and even from my own cousins, uncles and aunts. I’m a “no sabo kid,” they would often say. Not having this initial connection with my culture and people made me upset and sad as a young teen. As I grew older, it was natural that I gravitated to figuring out who I am in college, by doing art and research that reflected that. I feel I have now [been] compensated by learning, now, how to speak Spanish as an adult and participating in any way that I can in my community as a “no sabo kid.”
Carranza’s Artist Statement: As a first generation Mexican-American, I have always been in an emotional battle balancing two cultures. Growing up, I often felt my Mexican side [was] at more of an unequal disadvantage due to me not knowing enough Spanish. This initial disconnect was disheartening as I feel I didn’t have a strong enough connection to my culture and people.
Entering college, I thought I knew the history of my Mexican heritage, as I was always confident in that area. When I was assigned an appropriation project for an art assignment, I flipped it into an appreciation and homage of my indigenous roots. Throughout the research, I realized I knew my identity only from a surface level. As I was researching Oaxacan artifacts from my mother’s homeland, I ended up falling deeper in love with my culture. I would have never discovered this part of myself without the help of my college professors. This study inspired me to create a new collage, celebrating four generations of my Mexican family. A year later, I am still creating art inspired by this discovery of myself and my family.