Heart of Deer (the life force of our pueblos)

Collaboration Installation at MACLA Chicana/o Biennal
Melanie Cervantes, Jesus Barraza, & Celia Herrera Rodriguez

Artist Statement
There is a connection between making our relatives visible, specifically as the indigenous Peoples they are underneath the banner of Mexicanidad, and the murder of the young people in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. In a rally in San Francisco last month (11/13/14) to protest the murders and disappearances of activists and community organizers in Ayotzinapa at the hands of local government (in tandem with the local occupying drug cartel) the protesters chanted “¿Por qué?, ¿Por qué nos asesinan? si somos el futuro de América Latina.”

“Why are you killing us, we are your future?” is a real question. These young people were studying to become teachers. Actually struggling to become teachers against the enormous odds of entrenched political corruption that is the outcome of the neo-liberal policies introduced by the United States into Mexico that have taken a stranglehold of it’s economy and society. Again the question arises: why are the police forces that occupy every major urban area in the United States so intent on killing youth of color? Are the policing forces really so afraid, and if so, of what?

Our collective work as visual artists has been focused on making visible what is present and not always seen. In this case our common relatives, indigenous peoples of Mexico who have found themselves extracted from their homelands due to economic pressures and policies. They brought us here to the US to ‘have that better life, and to get an education’ that they knew would make a difference in our collective future. We look back at them, because they are what is left of our homeland, and because the way we remember is by touching home-ground. This being an almost impossible privilege these days, when homeland is secured by policing armies and their allies the drug cartels. Yet we look into the faces of our relatives and we remember them and ourselves. We also remember the larger ‘manda,’ that of freeing ourselves and our peoples from this destructive force that has no future.

So we connect Ferguson to Ayotzinapa, to Oakland, Richmond, and San Francisco.** Each of the cut paper pieces represents one of the murdered in Ayotzinapa, and the white figures represent the missing (un-numbered as of yet). The deer in the center, embodies the ‘heart of deer,’ the one that sacrificed self for our survival.

Each of the ‘bundles’ underneath the images of our relatives, hold what our relatives left us, what they held onto and ‘nos encargaron.’