By SHIKIRI HIGHTOWER
Maris Bustamante, a feminist Mexican artist, walked through the 22nd annual Sólo Mujeres exhibition currently on display at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and wondered if shows exclusive to women artists still have relevance.
“Today I would not do an exhibition of just women and I wouldn’t want to be a part of an all-women exhibition,” said the 59-year-old artist who is spending the year at San Francisco State University as a lecturer and Fulbright Scholar in Residence.
At one time, she said, all-women shows in Mexico were considered radical. “But today I really think that moment has passed,” she said. “The exhibits have already been done and I think my culture has recovered.”
In the United States, however, she said the art world still has an urge to “trap realities,” and that this year’s Sólo Mujeres exhibition, Future Landscapes Designed by Women, does just that.
Of the 16 women represented at the Mission Cultural Center show, Bustamante said as a visual artist she’s drawn to the pieces that make environments.
She pointed to a corner designed in pink wallpaper and pink chairs—”Pink Bits” by artist Masha Shaw. In her artist statement, Shaw said the wallpaper is intended to evoke feelings of sexual independence and power.
“It is very nice to me,” said Bustamante. “It’s organized with female nudes,” she said, referring to the digital print on the chair and wallpaper.
“North Americans are pragmatic. They like to trap realities and work with them,” Bustamante said. Mexicans, on the other hand, “live in the contemplation of the universe. Our sense of space and time is very different. All that connects to art makes for a different way of thinking.”
Bustamante said she also found the roof installation “Beyond II” by Amy Ho intriguing. Ho, in her artist statement, said the piece attempts to forge an emotional connection to our physical surroundings. A viewer climbs up a ladder and puts their head in a box full of mirrors. Inside, the world appears infinite.
“An aerial installation—I like that. Just to look at that I know that artist thinks in a different way,” said Bustamante.
“Those pillows, I love those pillows,” she said, referring to “Eden Now Pillow” by Anastasia Schipani. “The pillows with all the details are very well done.”
The show will be up until March 27.
In the meantime, Bustamante is preparing for her part in Still Dreaming, an upcoming two-day exhibition at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (April 30-May 1). Her performance piece, “960 Seconds,” pays homage to Mexican performance artists who have passed away.
Bustamante said she’s proud to be in San Francisco, a city she described as, “like Egypt or any of the legendary cities of the world.” She was especially pleased to be here during the November presidential election, and called Obama “the hope for people like me.”