“Through my fellowship with the Arts Council of Indianapolis I have worked to elevate and nurture a new appreciation of the value and quality of Mexican indigenous arts and crafts. I have found my voice as a leader for the unprivileged, underrepresented, and the Mexican undocumented where obstacles to survival are complex and vast.”
Beatriz Vasquez is a self-taught artist in the Mexican craft of Papel Picado, or perforated paper. However, Vasquez’s renewal project centered on the indigenous craft of loom weaving to incorporate with her Beatriz Designz Paper Dresses. This meant building her own loom and developing traditional hand sewing techniques for Mexican textiles. Her desire to learn more about her culture and heritage had Vasquez traveling to California and Texas, where she exhibited her Papel Picado. While in California, she met leading artists in the Chicano art movement and learned the importance of this movement and its contribution to the artworld.
Vasquez’s experiences in the fellowship allowed her to concentrate solely on the meaning of her work as a Mexican woman and to seek out innovative ways to represent, voice, lead, and express her interests with Mexicanismo always in the forefront. She says, “I feel I have become a leader to Latino youth and diverse communities in Indianapolis and worldwide. Having grown up as an under-privileged Mexican child, I too understand the obstacles overt and covert that easily damage dreams, goals, and aspirations.”
Vasquez’s journey as an artist has been about self-awareness and a fuller understanding and acceptance of herself. She’s stopped assimilating her life and art to accommodate others. She says, “As a Mexican woman artist, I feel the greatest responsibility to create work that will engage the audience in conversations, stimulate their curiosity, encourage acceptance and empathy for diversity. My renewal experience has allowed me to do just that.”