I had the pleasure of e-interviewing Evelyn (E.V.) Gonzalez for the last “Women Talk Art” feature this month. Rest assured that Unfiltered SA will continue featuring women through this series year-round. After all, we shouldn’t confine this celebration or support to one month. Without further ado, please continue reading as E.V. shares her artistic practice and upcoming publication with French & Michigan!
Who is Evelyn Gonzalez?
Evelyn Gonzalez (E.V. Gonzalez) is an artist whose practice pairs historical craft research with queer, trans, and feminist theories of materiality and embodiment. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, TX, and is the recipient of the Edith McAllister Award. Gonzalez has exhibited at Texas Contemporary in Houston, TX, and in the city-wide exhibition Common Currents in San Antonio.
What is your earliest art memory?
While I, like so many others, have a lot of early memories of artistic play, my earliest memory of art as an art object is of a reproduction of Frida Kahlo’s The Broken Column, which hung in my mother’s bedroom. The painting depicts Kahlo’s body split down the center, revealing a heavily fractured stone column. The surface of her skin is strewn with nails, and she is seemingly held together only by her steel corset. She is crying. It is a very raw image for a child to have been exposed to, in retrospect. I knew it had something to do with pain, but it wasn’t until I was older that I learned about Kahlo’s personal struggle with chronic pain and disability. I think this image resonates with a lot of Latinx women who have been through it, so to speak. It does for me, at least.
What can you tell us about your upcoming publication with French & Michigan?
This publication, Of Bodies Straining to See, documents work I began immediately after completing my BFA at the Southwest School of Art. It comprises two experiments inspired by artifacts of ceramic material culture: the pigment known as Maya Blue and Greek “ostraka,” or potsherds. I explore, through the process, materiality and the body and also the implication of embodied subjectivity within these singular material ecologies– its reproduction, its dissolution, etc. The publication also features an essay by Jeanne Vaccaro– a writer, curator, and teacher whose work explores the intersection of aesthetics and the history and theory of trans and queer life.
Do you mind sharing one of your favorite memories at the Southwest School of Art?
Honestly, it is really not possible for me to pick a single moment from my time there thus far. I am still making good memories with everyone at the school and hope to keep doing so as everything grows. I remain involved with the institution as an on-and-off adjunct instructor in the ceramics department’s community program. However, one thing I can point out is how much I love the culture of eating you find in the ceramics department– whether it be the BFA students designing serving ware for specially-catered community meals or the end-of-session pizza parties where we fire up the brick oven we built by hand. A good portion of my positive memories there involve food. After all, what good is making all that pottery if you don’t put it to use?
Complete the sentence: In times of uncertainty, art can …
Art can distract us. It can console us. It can save us. It also may not save us. One might rephrase the question as a proposition: art is nothing more than a response to conditions of uncertainty– art as an affirmation of uncertainty. Maybe it is not such a problem to the artist that times are uncertain. After all, crisis is a potent catalyst for artistic expression. In times of uncertainty, art will be there. However, I do feel that there are remarkable threats to artistic activity that might lead to its cessation– namely, the economic injunction to be productive. Our creative decisions become calculations about profit and expenditure. I think what many people are now grappling with is the knowledge that it could cost you everything due to forces beyond our control. We have been in this moment for some time. Passing through the other side of it necessitates divorcing art from productivity.
What is your dream artistic project?
The content of my dream project remains vague, even to me. At the very least, it would involve some minerals and a steady supply of estrogen in bulk. Lately, I have been reading a lot about the history of sex hormones and their significance to various medical disciplines, institutions, and also to “users” of these substances. While I do take this research seriously, at the end of the day, I have no interest in doing good science. In a way, this last project involved a lot of pseudo-ethnoarchaeology. I think that will come into play with my future work as well. These days I feel like I am doing a drag performance of a lab technician– a poor one at that. Maybe the dream I am describing will take the form of a clinical trial or, perhaps, the clinic itself in some reimagined form. I really cannot say at this point where the fantasy will take me.
Who is a woman artist you look up to, and why?
This is a very tough question for me to answer, being that there is no shortage of outstanding women out there in the world despite what history has been telling us. Really my answer to this question would vary depending on the day you asked me. Who comes immediately to mind is Arca– an artist, musician, and producer who has really been seizing this quarantine moment by doing live streams and launching an online chat server so others can connect. Coming from the discipline of so-called slow craft, I find her near constant output to be quite admirable. I myself have not done much in the way of music or integrated media, so anytime I see someone doing it, and doing it well, I have no choice but to obsess.
How do you stay creative during these times of staying at home?
The only remotely creative thing I have been doing lately is reading, but I have also taken the time to catch up on emails, personal accounts and do some much needed organizing. Right now, I am just trying to stay focused on taking care of myself and staying in touch with the people I have not been able to see in person. My creativity has always been something that comes and goes, so I don’t see any reason to overcompensate now. I am really not much of a workaholic, so I am trying to enjoy all of those daily rituals we do to feel grounded instead of being hard on myself for watching too much Netflix. It sounds crazy when I say it to myself, but I am really just trying to vibe in the face of all this chaos.
Thank you, E.V.! As March ends wholly differently than how it began, I look back at all the incredible artists that participated in the “Women Talk Art” interview series. There is no doubt in my mind the San Antonio art community consists of incredible women. As a women-founded platform, Unfiltered SA commits to highlighting inspiring individuals and leaders who are essential to the contribution of a community. Their leadership is more critical than ever —not only for women but for communities of color, minorities, and those at the intersection of those identities. It’s hard to think of what life will be after a global pandemic, but hopefully, it challenges us to come together and continue our fight for an equitable future.