Artist: Sheila Garrett Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Media: Oil on Canvas, Acrylic, Embroidery, Plaster, Metal Screen, Mixed-Media
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery East
About the artist:
Sheila Garrett Rodriguez is a graduate student in the School of Art’s Fiber Program at CSULB. She has a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts Drawing and Painting. Prior to attending graduate school she picked up embroidery and realized that she truly enjoyed it. For this reason Sheila decided to enroll into graduate school and pursue her Master’s of Fine Arts in Fiber. Rodriguez shared the idea behind her exhibit came from her experience of moving over 30 times in her lifetime.
Were We Even Here is an installation that consists of mixed media and embroidery. She created the pieces from materials that had been taken from each of the houses she had lived in. She then embroidered strands of thread all the different colors to the house material. The house materials included a bed frame, a chair, pieces of drywall, window screens and wood. All of the house materials had an embroidery that was made up of flower designs or lines with different patterns. There was a short video playing in a small sectioned of area. The video was recorded on her IPhone, in a kitchen in which different food was being cooked .
Were We Even Here as mentioned before the exhibit is based on Rodriguez’s memories of the homes she has lived in throughout her life time. She explained how she has moved over 30 times. At a few of the homes she occupied, she developed made connections to the physical location as well as the community around her. Each piece tells/signifies/represents a memory that the homes had left on her. One of the most important pieces within the exhibition was a piece titled “No Trespassing: Borders and Bodies”, It represented the artist as well as the first house she has called her own. The piece had embroidered flowers, these flowers are used throughout the Mexican culture. Rodriguez used these flowers as a form of symbolism to represent her Mexican heritage. The main theme I picked up from the exhibit was the portrayal of how an individual can form a strong connection to a physical location.
Were We Even Here has so far been my favorite art viewing. It incorporated the use of home materials to get the audiences mind to think. Upon entering into the gallery I was drawn to the painting with a body that had a house for a head grasping at barbwires with beautiful colorful flowers sprouting out of no where. As the students began to interview her and she told us that she had moved a whopping 30 times so far in her life.It shocked me, I have only moved once so far in my life, and let me tell you it was not an easy feat at all. I had lived in the same house for 17 years and towards the end of my senior year of high school, right before college my family up and moved. Rodriguez however told her astonished audience she has grown accustomed to moving around, and that it had gotten easier every time she did.