Domesticanx at El Museo Del Barrio

Ceramic sculptures by Joel Gaitan. Photo courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.

The idea of "domesticana", coined by artist, scholar, and critic Amalia Mesa-Bains in the 1990s, describes the intersection of domestic and cultural experiences in the Chicano community, expanding upon the theory of rasquachismo.

So what is rasquachismo? "It's a term coined by Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, reflecting an inventive, oftentimes more-is-more, "underdog" expression that is best understood as a sensibility, rather than a defined aesthetic," explains curator Susanna Temkins of El Museo del Barrio's group exhibition Domesticanx. The show includes artwork of seven intergenerational artists who explore the concept of "domesticana" through March 26, 2023.

From a diverse range of backgrounds, mainly works relating to aspects of healing, spirituality, decoration, and the home in various mediums, artists debut include Joel Gaitan, Cielo Félix-Hernández, Misla, and Amarise Carreras. In contrast, veteran artists include Nitza Tufiño, Maria Brito, and Mesa-Bains. Temkins continues, "I was inspired to take up domesticana after hearing Amalia Mesa-Bains give a talk with her friend and artistic peer Judy Baca. This prompted me to re-read Mesa-Bains's texts, and I became particularly struck by her essay, "Domesticana: The Sensibility of Chicana Rasquache." Whereas she was originally inspired by an anti-patriarchal stance as well as the artistic practice of her fellow women artists, I wanted to expand her ideas towards a more fluid, femme, and queer approach, particularly in light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, LGBTQ+(sic) rights, and trans femme violence. Our post-pandemic moment also made the text resonate for me differently, particularly as related to what I perceive as our changed approaches to our domestic environment."

Centered around the exploration of domestic spaces and experiences that intersect with Latinx culture, identity, and politics, Domesticanx reflects the nature of many Latin-American homes where multiple generations live together.

The artists featured in the Domesticanx exhibition represent various backgrounds, genders, and generations and show sustained and ongoing answers to Mesa-Bains' call to "repair the wounds of patriarchy and colonization."

Misla. Cuarto, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Praxis Gallery

Misla, El Comedor, 2019, mixed media, 70 x 96 in
Courtesy of the artist and Praxis Gallery

Domesticanx is a thought-provoking exploration of the home as a space for healing, spirituality, self-realization, and resistance in Latinx communities, providing a rich and nuanced view of Latinx identity and culture. Tempkin explains, "Audiences seem to really be identifying with the works on display, recognizing aspects of their home environments in the Misla's paintings for example. It is also exciting to see how younger audiences seem to respond to the show based on Instagram stories and posts they are sharing."

Domesticanx is on view through March 26, 2023.