Patricia Barrera

The Power of Positivity by Patricia Barrera, Photo by Steve Weinik.

The theme in my most recent artwork recounts facts that are not easy to digest. On the one hand, I take as my theme the escalating criminality and extremely high murder rate in Mexico; on the other, the emotional turmoil these crimes have cost individuals and the nation. My work is grounded in the fear and anguish wrought over Mexico’s current volatile atmosphere. What is difficult for many viewers to bear about my creations is the drastic nature of my artistic approach, drawing attention to the political conditions in which violence occurs and the desensitization that results from self-perpetuating media portrayals. At the same time, I confront the viewer with the horror of the memories of these experiences and its by-products, whose substantive traces serve as source material for me.

I have personally experienced violence, robberies, and kidnapping attempts and the emotional damage they leave behind is always present. My most recent works are made from materials and elements that were either part of a violent act or a material or object from the crime scene; anything that brings back memories. What you see, in viewing the surface of the paintings in proximity, is duct tape, blood, gauze, plastic, broken glass, packaging tape, and some other collage elements collected including newspaper articles and photographs. Like most of my work, these materials function as indexes of the events and they attempt to give symbolic voice to the unheard. They strive to, in some sense, to “give pain a home.” My work proceeds from the sense that I am able to allow the pain of the other to inhabit me; it is an allegorial sublimation through an abstract violence where the figurative content is the story of my life.

Empathy in this context is more than the sharing of affective experience, or recognizing another’s experience as similar to one’s own; it is a mode of thought that might be achieved when one allows the violence of an affective experience to truly inform thinking. In this regard, the artist does not merely describe an inner experience but allows such experience to fold back into the world in a manner that can inform understandings both about the nature of relationship to others and about the political nature of violence and pain.

Last updated: Feb 8, 2017