We all have a cultural identity that is formed by family, community, country, and the world in which we live. Today, selfies aid in constructing identity by providing a new mode and venue for negotiating values, perceptions, and assertions. I present myself and my Latino identity via my selfies. I act both as artist and subject, allowing complete control of how my image is portrayed to the public. However, by removing my self-portraits from social media context to the gallery wall of the art world, I add permanence. Furthermore, my selfies draw on memory to construct identity, in that they record events, people, and places that are special to me. I am constantly taking self-portraits with my smart phone, alone or with my husband and my son, to instantly share on social media and remain connected with family and friends in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. The painted portraits intend to capture the interaction between my life here in Massachusetts and my bond to Puerto Rico, my birthplace.
The act of exploring the meaning and location of borders, boundaries, and zones of transitions is what theorist Homi Bhaba names as “In-betweeness” (Robertson, p178). My series #Inbetween2worlds aims to document the now easy transition between two places and how I have overcome displacement. Reaching for a deeper understanding of self directly correlates to the construction of my identity. As I pose for the selfie with my grandmother, I intend to take with me a memento and share it on Facebook. As I paint our self-portrait, I further celebrate, process, and savor that moment. In my selfie portrait with my son we playfully pose in our winter attire, celebrating a sunny cold day to share with family back in Puerto Rico. In another selfie, I pose with my parka or with the exotic flower of the “Flamboyan” or Royal Poinciana tree. It may not be as obvious for my viewer to determine where I am, either here or there, but my desire is to allow the viewer to contemplate on who I am, what I value, and how I identify. Every portrait in this series evaluates, reevaluates, examines, and reexamines my personal experience.
Robertson, Jean & Craig McDaniel. Themes of Contemporary Art Visual Art after 1980. Oxford University Press. Pages 50&51, 80, 178 . 2010.