statement

Juana Valdes’ most current work elicits migration as a complex process, constructing history through a continuum that involves both the homespace of the diasporic community along with their new homeland.  Juana examines the post-colonial history of the Americas and the current representation of Latinos, Caribbean citizens, Blacks or what the current “Other” is in vogue in mainstream America, reflecting on what is ascribed, contested, and granted. This ethno-social exploration serves as the raw material for her aesthetic and formal investigation, as it circumscribes issues of transmutation via the everyday object, as a personal and time-based reference that is diachronic in orientation.

The dynamism of Juana’s work is vested in the transition from sculpture to installation to performance, thereby shifting fields, and exchanging modes of visual recognition. She holds in balance such questions as “where and what is the art in art?” and “when does it separate from daily life?” The final outcome speaks to contemporary controversies and tensions, which explore issues of personal identity and one’s role in multiple collectives. Her work integrates the socio-political discourse within the art object to analyze relationships between contemporary and historical imagery, their connection to the social, political, and economical dominance of the cultures that produce them and their impact on cultural memory. Juana records her own personal experience of migration as an Afro Cuban-American and facilitates an exile’s perspective. Through art, she investigates the experiences of transculturation directly and poetically, recreating from a personal archive of both displacement and remembrance.

In Juana’s new series of ceramic pieces entitled “Colored China Rags”, she chose to work with Bone China for its history of trade between Europe and Asia and its ever-shifting value as a commodity. Bone China is separate from all the other porcelain for its whiteness and translucency. In altering the clay “body” by inserting pigment directly to the clay, she is changing its chemical composition, thus bringing into consciousness past histories in present day experiences that engage social justice to question economic inequalities due to race, class, and gender prejudice. These works question how aesthetics and value is assigned and maintained through the production of mass produce objects.

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