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Studio portrait of Magué Calanche

I am Mexican American, born in Ysleta, an Indian Reservation outside El Paso, Texas. With several creative professions behind me, I am self-taught. I've painted a variety of genres: landscapes, figurative, and still lives; however, having spent many summers in Mexico as a child and numerous recent visits to Mexico brought back my claim of finding a more personal direction in my work. I address recollections and speak of my experiences growing up biculturally and of my appreciation for my cultural roots by creating narratives that have depth and much more meaning for me. 

  This new work is about celebrating the perseverance and richness of our native people by incorporating different media in an alchemy of colors, textures, and iconographies inherent in our aesthetics, mythology, and practices. I draw upon various disciplines from my extensive graphic design and illustration background to further enrich my perceptions and investigations. Stories my parents and aunts told us while preparing labor-intensive tamales, salsas, and moles are also now inspirations. 

  I relate my childhood vacation experiences to my grandparents' rural village of Anahuac. During those long hot summers, we worked alongside my uncles in the bean and corn fields, fed the chickens and pigs, cleaned the horse stalls, and played with Tarahumahara children even though we did not have a common language. We looked forward to the annual circus pilgrimage, often fronted with deformed animal and human infants stuffed in jars of formaldehyde. Their spectacle, though humble, was surreal and bedazzled my imagination.

   In particular, during these visits, I saw how women worked long hours. My grandmother would wake me at an ungodly hour to help carry the pails of nixtamal to the corn mill while the night skies transformed from darkness to dawn. In silence, silhouetted women walked in a row with their snug rebozos keeping the morning chill away and burdened by the weight of tradition to feed their families. Upon return, the patting of the maiz to make tortillas and the sizzling of fried eggs would bring everyone to the table. Like so many women, my grandmother had the entire day's agenda well managed, and everyone's needs addressed, as I noticed her daily and repetitive grind. Back in Texas, I assisted my mother with chores, often accompanied her to work, and saw that her toil was endless, unappreciated, and unnoticed, as I've confirmed this to be for all mothers. These are some sources of inquiry, understanding, recognition, and compassion.

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