Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Navarrete.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Lauren. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am currently a BFA 3 majoring in Fine Arts at California Institute of the Arts. I identify my self as an Asian Mexican American and it definitely has been a struggle growing up in my home town, San Marino, identifying not only as a person of color but being of mixed race. The dysphoria I have been feeling surrounding my identity ever since elementary school has been the main subject of my work recently. Without the teachers I was fortunate to meet at Calarts and my high school, LA County High School for the Arts, I don’t think I would have been able to understand or contextualize my ideas or many cases of marginalized dysphoria of myself or of my classmates. To those teachers and especially my friends and family, I would not be able to make the work I am making today and to continue supporting me throughout everything.
Has it been a smooth road?
Unfortunately, it has not been the smoothest road for me to exist and make work as I please. What makes living the hardest is having a mental disability and being of mixed race. Being of mixed race is fetishized all around the world. In the Philippines, Miss Universe who won was “Filipino” but she actually was mixed race and won mostly for her Euro-centric features. Always being compared to these idealized features as a person of color can really affect someone if they are the only dark child at a school. And as a child, that is what it was like for me growing up. I remember wanting blue eyes and blonde hair in second grade because that is what was accepted. Now that I am older, I accept being mixed race but my two cultures have the most spoken languages in America being, Mandarin and Spanish. I’ve frequently come across people who weaponize the language or culture against me since I was not born or lived in China or Mexico and I don’t fluently know the languages.
Now I have amazing friends who are also mixed race and completely understand the experiences which I have faced and want to keep trying to understand why it is like this for us. Unfortunately having a mental disability is more difficult to understand than mixed race oppression since it deals with mental issues which is only understood by doctors or professionals. Because of that, it’s hard to have reoccurring diagnosis or the proper help and medication a patient might need. Luckily having very excepting, understanding friends and family has been the only thing keeping me sane. Not only listening to me but they want to take the time to try to understand why it is hard to have a mental disability and being mixed race.
Please tell us more about your art.
I am currently exploring ideas about identity and the importance of an image or object. The mediums which I use the most often are sculpture, painting, textiles and fiber. The material itself has a lot of context and importance when I use it in my work. As of now, I’m starting the beginning process of figuring out my Mid-Residence show at Calarts. Some of the materials I am thinking of using are different types of clay and found objects which have significance to my culture and childhood. I’m very excited about the future and can’t wait to keep creating new pieces.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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