Artist: Sheila Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Media: Mixed Media
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery East
About the Artist
Sheila Rodriguez is a graduate student at CSULB. She is a part of the fibers MFA program on the campus. Rodriguez also attended CSULB for her undergraduate career where she was a part of the painting and drawing program. Sheila is part Mexican. Her mother’s side of is from California, while her father’s side of the family is from Mexico City. Rodriguez enjoys eating Mexican food such as tamales. She says that her grandma makes the best food.
Walking inside Rodriguez’s art exhibition felt like walking into someone’s home. In the middle of the room, there is a bed frame, but with no mattress. When walking into the other part of the gallery, it feels like you are walking into the kitchen of a house because Rodriguez displays a video of someone making food as well as a display of some of the utensils the person cooking is using placed on a table in the middle of the room. In addition, Rodriguez has beautiful embroideries hung on the walls. Every embroidery has colorful flowers surrounding what seems like a broken pieces of a wall.
From my conversation with Rodriguez, her exhibition represents how a home can be someone’s identity. I think Rodriguez really values the home. In the outside world there are many cultures that collide but coming inside a home is where one’s identity, own culture, traditions and distinctiveness is preserved in that everyone decorates their home a different way. For example, my home has different rules from my friend’s home who is Mexican. Everyone’s home is a reflection of who they are and where they came from. Walking into Rodriguez’s exhibition, one could tell that the people who live in the home are of Hispanic descent because of the colorful flowers on the embroidery as well as the food that they were making in the video. She says that she took materials to make the embroideries from homes and then added embroidery. Through her artwork of trying to create a feeling of ‘home’, I felt that Rodriguez was trying to connect back to her heritage because Rodriguez she talked about how inside her home among her family members, she was able to act ‘Mexican’ but once she was outside of the home, that went away and she had to be as Americanized as possible.
I am Vietnamese-American. Though I am of Vietnamese descent, I have never spent more than a month in Vietnam. When I talk to my Vietnamese relatives still living in Vietnam they tell me have an ‘American’ accent when speaking the language, and sometimes they say something that I do not understand which makes me feel disconnected from my ‘roots.’ I have only been to Vietnam twice in my entire 19 years of existence, hence, I do not know much about what it is like there. I also have never celebrated Tet also known as Chinese New Year in Vietnam, which I hear from my parents that it is much more lively than the way we celebrate it here in the States. When I went to Vietnam this past summer, it was my first time visiting it in which I could really remember and understand everything since the very first time I visited it I was only 7. I really connected to my roots. I enjoyed eating traditional Vietnamese food that I couldn’t get here in the United States. I went back home to my mom’s childhood home and connected to where she grew up. Living in the United States, when I am out of my home, there are many different traditions and morals, however when I am at home, I follow the rules according to Vietnamese traditions, like not wearing shoes outside of the house and respecting my elders by bowing down when they enter my house or when I enter theirs.