One, the individual, the beginning of community or isolation the start and the beginning of what will come. For this exhibit I chose to work on how I can express the uniqueness of my sexual orientation, of my life experience as a Latina Lesbian living in exile in Seattle, WA.
What would I say if we lived in a world without heterosexism and homophobia? How would I say it? How can I be part of a community where I cannot express who I am fully? Where do I end as an individual and begging as a member of the LGBTQ community or the Latino community, where do they intersect, and how?
The XXI Century, some say this is the first time in modern human history that I can live, and love, outside the closet, outside of my racial and ethnic identity. Is it true? Where do I fit if I believe in having multiple partners, or if I do not believe in marriage? What if I believe in God and I want to express my spirituality according to my cultural norms?
All is not equal in LGBT equality. As U.S. Conservatives battle against same sex marriage, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning equality is challenged all around us, all around the world.
In Mexico, many people use retablos to express their dreams, and desires for a better life. In the XVII, XVII and XIX centuries Mexicans paid street artists to illustrate a scene of small or big life changing events. These “small miracles” usually happened after they had asked a particular virgin or saint for an intervention. Mexicans used retablos to illuminate what they have survived, they desires and dreams. Retablos were taken by the individual to a church, placed behind the altar of the particular virgin or saint who has become our confidant, and supported the individual in times of tribulation. There behind the altar everyone could see what has happened to you, how you have been“ held by the divine.”
As a child, I would go in the churches to see these retablos. There were stories of love, despair, escaping death, recovering from sickness, drunkness and drug abuse. I saw retablos as pictorial confessions between me, a stranger, and the virgins, angels and saints. Looking at the images and reading the stories in each retablo I knew wondrous, magical things happened all around me. I shared in the secret, in the hope.
I always looked for the stories from others like me. Retablos about discovering same sex love, of survival from homophobic violence or prejudice, of incredible body modifications in search for you true gender, but I never found one. The stories of my people, the small and big miracles that happened to me and them were hidden even there, behind the altar.
My work takes on the form of retablos to give voice to what is hidden. The altar becomes what happens behind your eyes, the eyes of my peers, other human beings sharing with me this time in history, the present, now. The saints and virgins become my belief in social change and justice, a symbol for the internal hope for liberation for a lesbian living in a Catholic, Heterosexual and Homophobic society.
My paintings strive to bring before the altar the dreams for relationships, hope and love. They are a mirror. Do you see yourself, do you see me?
Survival is not life… these retablos are also a reminder of what can be if we only embrace the greatness of the human spirit and become community.
Jacque Larrainzar, Human and Civil Rights Activist.
Jacque is passionate about justice. She believes that working with social justice issues is a way to restore our humanity and create checks and balances against institutional power. “Art, including music, painting and dance, gives us tools to express things that otherwise we would not be able to share with each other, and in doing so, it allows us to share the uniqueness of our individuality as human beings with each other and create community . Art allows you to see who I am and connects my personal experiences to how you see the world and who you are.”
Jacque has served on numerous boards and committees in the areas of civil and human rights, immigrants’ rights, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights. As an important member of Seattle’s Latino cultural activist community, Jacque was part of the Casa de Las Artes “Day of the Death Celebration.” Jacque is also honored to be part of the “Seattle Guealguetza Celebration” an annual celebration of indigenous Oaxacan Culture and support Immigration and refugee, women and LGBT organizations by offering music and song to their celebrations.
From 1999 to 2001 Jacque performed with the only Cuban Charanga Orchestra in the Noth West: Charanga Yerbabuena. As a musician she has performed with Lalo Guerrero, Pete Sieger, Richard Egues, and many other internationally known Musicians. Her music is part of the Smithsonian’s “Woodie Gutrie: Music of Protest in the Americas Collection,” FolkLife, and EMP. She has been included in the encyclopedia of popular music, and the “who’s who: American Women’s Dictionary.
“One” marks the first anniversary of sharing my internal visual explorations with you my community.