MY DEAR AMERICANS

I grew up in the small town of Reynosa, which sits in the southeast border of Texas. Two vivid memories from my childhood are making weekend trips to McAllen, Texas, and listening to my father’s ideas about politics and economics, including the differences between Mexico and United States. I was too young to really understand why my father cared so much about these issues, but now that I’m a grown up and a mother, I get it all.

For Mexicans, and especially for those who live close to the border, it is common to refer to United States as “the other side of the puddle”, a place where everything is ‘better.’ The towns of Reynosa and McAllen couldn’t be more different. The safe, clean, well-paved town, home of south Texas shopping tourism, was something I could enjoy only as a visitor, while I had to live in the poor and “dusty” Reynosa.

I am not an American citizen because of fate  my parents moved to Reynosa when I was three months old. Dreams of one day becoming “a citizen” were common for me, especially because my two younger brothers are, and my parents constantly talked about one day “being petitioned” and moving to Texas. For me, I’d have to find another way, but the land of opportunity, the American dream, one day would be mine.

In 2011, when my husband was asked by his company to move to Massachusetts, we didn’t think it twice. It was our opportunity to live in the ‘first world.’ Furthermore, the violence of the drug war had hit the city where we used to live, making the decision a “no brainer”. There’s a saying in Mexico about situations that turned out not quite as expected, which could be translated as “You left Guate-mala (bad) to go to Guate-peor (worst)”. It never occurred to me that moving to the States would be a regretful choice, until the last election. Before my eyes, the country I grew up admiring is decomposing and has never been weaker. My former beliefs of how United States was as a country have been challenged by political and social events of the last couple of years.

Recently I started a project that I call My Dear Americans, a series of artworks which entails photography, moving image, 3D printing and technology. In essence, it is a critical commentary about the current state of American society, north of the border, highlighting issues like gun culture, war conviction, social media abuse and excessive use of plastic that contributes to pollution. My Dear Americans is a project that explores the differences in how I imagined it was like living here and what I have been actually experiencing.

Drawing upon the capabilities of photography and video, I work with objects to present my nuanced perspective. I find interesting how lifeless objects become representations of ideas or emotions, much like photographs, to which we attach meaning.

As an immigrant, as a woman, as a mother and as an artist, I believe it is my responsibility to focus on issues that are relevant to present day culture and society. I am passionate about using my skills as image maker to create visual activism. It is my wish for My Dear Americans to become a path for reflection, dialogue and social change.