‘Assembling Self’ visual art exhibit now open in the Student Union Building

Photo by Hanalei Potempa | The Arbiter

Marianna Jimenez Edwards, a local Mexican American artist, presents a variety of visual arts pieces in “Assembling Self,” a visual art exhibit inspired by her experiences as a Mexican American woman living in the United States. The exhibit is now open on campus at the Student Union Building. 

Jimenez Edwards uses a mixture of media including paint and found imagery to portray themes valued in ancient hispanic culture, as well as the delicate and specific experience of living as a Mexican American woman stuck between two different worlds.

“‘Assembling self,’ that’s kind of what I’m doing in most of those works,” Edwards said. “I take things and put them together to assign a new meaning that I have for them within that idea that these things are about my experience as a Mexican American woman here in the United States.”

Jimenez Edwards shared that she was especially inspired by symbols in Mexican culture.

“In pre-Hispanic Mexico, there was a lot of emphasis on nature and things that were happening in the natural world, like natural phenomena, the sun, the moon, the stars,” Jimenez Edwards said. “Everything had meaning, everything had symbolism.”

[Photo of “Fringe” by Marianna Jimenez Edwards, featured in the “Assembling Self” art exhibit in the SUB.]
Photo by Hanalei Potempa | The Arbiter

One of Jimenez Edwards’ more collage style pieces titled “Fringe” is based on a specific experience of Mexican- American immigrants and their families. 

“I made that (Fringe) in response to the detention centers on the border and children being separated from their families,” Jimenez Edwards said. “That has had a really big impact on the Mexican American community and all the communities that are affected by immigration.”

Jimenez Edwards shared that this piece illustrates fluidity of the border and the different experiences immigrants have. It also highlights the communication between family members over the border.

“I wanted it to represent the idea that the border is kind of a fluid space, because in our mind we are creating this fixed line,” Jimenez Edwards said. “If you are an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant you are kind of always ‘on the fringe.’ You’re not here, not there, you’re in this in-between space.”

To present this concept, Jimenez Edwards included images like a mother and child, the American flag, the Mexican peso, as well as real postage stamps given to Jimenez Edwards by her mother.

Jiminez Edwards shared that her own mother and father used these postage stamps featured in the art piece to send letters to one another from either side of the border in the 1980s.

[Photo of “Dreamweaver” by Marianna Jimenez Edwards.]
Photo by Hanalei Potempa | The Arbiter

For her piece titled “Dreamweaver,” Jimenez Edwards shared that she wanted to illustrate the idea of staying true to oneself and not allowing the infiltration of external sources affect people’s views of the beauty in the world.

Jimenez Edwards shared that this oil painting was actually inspired by a real life photograph taken of a friend.

“I really loved that she looked so proud in her huipil, which is a traditional dress or blouse that indigenous women wear,” Jimenez Edwards said. “She just looks so assertive and strong.”

In this piece Jimenez Edwards illustrates a woman with a strong sense of self who is proud of her culture amidst the chaotic colliding of worlds.

“Ever since I was a little girl I noticed anyone who wore those blouses were asserting something about themselves,” Jimenez Edwards said. “They were saying ‘this is who I am, this is my culture and I am proud of it.’”

[Photo of “Somos Estrellas,” “Astronauta” and “Polvo de Luna” by Marianna Jimenez Edwards.]
Photo by Hanalei Potempa | The Arbiter

In the “Assembling Self” exhibit Jimenez Edwards has a collection of three related pieces titled “Somos Estrellas,” “Astronauta” and “Polvo de Luna,” which are a sequence of paintings that connect to one another.

These three pieces all include the image of a girl, all created using mixed media on a wood panel.

These pieces as well as many more from the “Assembling Self” exhibit are located at the Trueblood Pop-Up Gallery on the second floor of the Student Union Building.

The exhibit is free and available to anyone and will be open to viewers through the end of the fall semester.

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