Review: Changing Social Discourses

Sofia Garcia, Arts & Life Editor

On display from Jan. 22- Feb. 21, UTSA’s Main Art Gallery’s latest exhibition “Changing Social Discourses” is an arresting collection of personal, artistic narratives curated by UTSA faculty members Libby Rowe and Dr. Scott Sherer. Artists Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Daniela Cavazos Madrigal and Anh Thuy-Nguyen showcased their compelling artwork for the public to see. These women have dedicated their artwork to challenging antiquated societal and cultural narratives. Datchuk’s neon-acrylic installation, “Ching Chong,” aimed to expose the offensively overused microaggressions which confront Chinese women. Her art serves not only as a political statement in the face of constant oppression, but also allows for other women of color to find solace in knowing that someone is fighting for them. With a major shift in the language centered on people of color, it is especially important to push for correction of terms that have the ability to harm generations of Chinese women.

Madrigal presented a poignant installation about a devastating incident that occurred in Laredo, Texas. In 2018, a Border Patrol agent was allegedly seen brutally murdering his lover and their one-year-old son, Grizelda and Dominic Hernandez, in McNaboe Park. The display, “Los Arboles Que Vieron Todo, The Trees That Saw Everything,” shows toys and stuffed animals left near the site of the murder in honor of the victims. It is clear these stuffed animals, covered in dirt, have been worn down, representing the constant struggle of immigrant families in the U. S. Madrigal’s installation illuminates the daily battles faced by immigrants and the issues of deeply rooted violence and prejudice.

Nguyen’s “Thuy and Sand” allows her viewers to ponder the meaning of growth in Vietnamese women. Perpetuations of stereotypes and preconceptions about women of color can place labels on them that are far from the truth. During times like these, it is essential to progress into true self-expression, even when there are systems that are built to oppress and marginalize certain minorities. Her development as an individual was evident in the photos of her dragging a bag across the sand, visually displaying the journey to self-recognition. Nguyen does a phenomenal job of shedding light on the persistence of these strong women.

The art showcased in this exhibit deserves recognition. The UTSA Main Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.