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Meet Trailblazer Frida Cano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frida Cano.

Frida, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I always knew what my mission was in this life. However, there are times when I tend to forget. One of these times was right after I completed my Master degree in San Francisco. I remember being extremely depressed and ill, at my parent’s house in Mexico City, with no close friends, in the midst of a tremendous social crisis due to the drug war, and with no work proposals nor inspiration to do anything. I then decided to find my inspiration in the past, reorganizing my chaotic bedroom and turning it into a hub for colors and ideas to arise. During this time, I found myself looking at an Atlas, which gave me clues about what I was about to create: the project entitled “Arttextum, Tejido de agentes culturales inspirados en Latinoamérica.” The project helped me and others to acknowledge the beauty of life through art seen as nature. Arttextum pictures artists as the creative rivers that flow over and carve the cultural landscape, the art venues are like the mountains and lakes through which these rivers flow, and the art theory is like the cultural climate that helps determine when an area is fertile, cold/warm, etcetera. Arttextum is a tool for understanding the difficult worlds in which we live in order to imagine other possible worlds and eventually make them a reality.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think there is an easy way to achieve goals, especially in arts and particularly for women. If one cares deeply about something (in my case, my project Arttextum), one will find many ways to do it successfully, and it usually involves creating a safety net of like-minded people who accompanies me in my creative endeavors. I have to admit that I am a workaholic because I love to do what I do and because it goes beyond my own self as a creative person: Arttextum does good for people and for the world at large. I believe in my project so much, and as a result, many people have helped me out along the way. If there are struggles perhaps they relate to making sure that my project is continually growing in an organic way (in other words, that I am not imposing my ideas to it, but rather, I listen to the needs that the project and its participant artists are demanding); the need to ensure that the project is at least self-sustainable, which demands a constant and heavy workload; and the call for staying relevant, not to the market, but to the network of people that sustains the project. My advice for everyone, not just for young women, is to identify your passion and pursue that thing that ignites the fire inside your belly: that is the only way that I’ve found one, as an individual, can create social “earthquakes” that make people think beyond the everyday routine.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
As an artist and curator, I have focused on bringing attention to the voices of Latinx artists with great emphasis on California (Bay Area + Los Angeles) due to the great openness to new discourses and its proximity to Latin America and Asia. Exhibitions like “Liminal Takes” and “Numina Femenina: Latin Women in the Arts” for example, encompassed 35 Latina and Chicana artists from various artistic disciplines –visual arts, literature, film, music, and dance– in a total of sixteen events and eleven partnerships (with the San Francisco Symphony, the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Museo de Arte Popular, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, the University of San Francisco, and many more). “Numina Femenina” as a project that aimed to encourage women’s development by generating spaces for artistic creation and its exposure in the Bay Area, received a special award from the City of San Francisco and Mayor Edwin M. Lee. To me, achieving big goals has to do with not just leading a team but working collaboratively through networks with like-minded people and institutions who implement creative solutions to daily problems. As a curator and cultural producer, my goal is to help show how today Mexicans and Mexican-Americans employ these inherited strategies of creative resilience in artworks that have relevance for a world dealing with crisis.

My latest project entitled Arttextum (from the Latin word -textum, meaning weaving, interlacing) explores the cultural landscape through the perspective of the Latin American artists who understand what institutions and cultural producers speak most poignantly about the Zeitgeist. This unique database utilizes the methodology of ego networks to translate content into metaphors, seeing artists as the creative rivers that flow over the cultural terrain, venues as the mountains and lakes through which these rivers circulate, and art theorists as the ones in charge of defining the cultural climate of such regions. Since 2012, Arttextum collaborates with Promoción del Arte, from the Ministry of Culture and Sports in Madrid, Spain.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
The biggest barrier that not only women but everyone who dares to become a leader in the field is, in my opinion, the fear of success. One may have a great idea, but such an idea may never see the light if we are constantly sabotaging ourselves. Throughout the path, one will encounter various issues that circulate around the same situation: we’re living in a world ruled by (white) men. However, I learned a wise saying from Mexican women which reads “Detrás de cada gran hombre, hay una gran mujer” (Behind every successful man, there is always a great woman). Through this saying, Mexican women recognize the power structure and clearly see their role in society, which is to be the power behind the power. Glimpsed from an outside perspective, one as a woman has more disadvantages than men, however, from an inside point of view, women know that we have more tools to face any circumstance that men and we must constantly remind ourselves that we are capable of achieving more than what we dream of. The first and last barrier is to face and defeat our own fears, that is to say, the societal rules imposed over us to control mass behavior. Perhaps in my own experience, what helps is to become blind to these man-made rules, which doesn’t mean to be naive about them, instead, ignore them in order to be who I need to be at that time and do what I know I have to do in this lifetime.

Contact Info:

  Image Credit:
Mick Lorusso, Kazuya Iwaki, Fabián Rodríguez, XOCIARTEK, Promoción del Arte, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte de Madrid, FONCA Apoyos Especiales 2017, LACE Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

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