Department of History of Art
Guisela Latorre specializes in modern and contemporary U.S. Latina/o and Latin American art with a special emphasis on gender and women artists. Her first book titled Walls of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals from California (U. of Texas Press 2008), explored the recurrence of indigenist motifs in Chicana/o community murals from the 1970s to the turn of the millennium. Her other publications include “Border Consciousness and Artivist Aesthetics: Richard Lou’s Performance and Multimedia Artwork” in the American Studies Journal (2012), “New Approaches to Chicana/o Art: The Visual and the Political as Cognitive Process” in Image & Narrative (2010), and “Icons of Love and Devotion: Alma López’s Art” in Feminist Studies (Spring/Summer 2008). Latorre’s recent research activities include the co-editorship of the feminist journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies and work on a second book project of the graffiti and mural movement in Chile during the post-dictatorship era. She teaches classes on Latina/Chicana feminism, visual culture and Latina/o art.
Q & A
What makes more livable futures for you?
I struggle to imagine a livable and dignified future with the current normalization of violence (in its many forms.) I feel that it has become a legitimate and acceptable way to respond to conflict, disagreement, and even problem-solving. Our current president leads by example, as his routine response to life challenges and adversity take the form of violent outbursts of hate speech. People of color, women, queer communities and other historically marginalized populations bear the brunt of his violent rhetoric and toxic policies. I shudder to think how young people are internalizing the normalization of violence and I wonder what my own daughter, as a young girl of color, will have to do survive in the future. But a livable future is not just surviving; it is living without the fear of violence.
What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?
I am currently teaching a film class for the first time in my life so I’ve been immersing myself in all kinds of literature on film studies. I’ve always loved film but now I have a better understanding why. My dear colleague Linda Mizejewski and I recently watched the film Colette which chronicles the life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a French writer whose husband takes ownership and authorship of her writing until she is finally able to break free. It reminded me, once again, that we don’t always have agency over our own creative expression. Linda is a renowned film scholar so watching movies with her is a double treat.
My recent viewing practices have also inspired my reading choices. I watched the miniseries The Miniaturist on PBS, one of the most visually stunning BBC productions I have ever seen. I was delighted then when I found out that it was based on a novel by Jessie Burton. I’m now devouring the book and I don’t care that I already know what happens at the end. Reading this book represents my first foray into historical fiction too. Science fiction literature and the writings of Jeff VanderMeer are usually more my speed, but I can’t get enough of Burton at the moment.
When it comes to music, I am all about the sounds from Latin America. Growing up in Chile during the 1980s, Rock en Español (rock in Spanish) was the music of my generation. Gustavo Ceratti, Café Tacuba and Los Prisioneros were my idols. This musical genre has evolved over the decades with different names such as Latin Alternative music or Rock Alternativo, but it’s still the same good stuff. I’m now totally digging new artists MexFutura and Tatiana Hazel. I also think that Li Saumet, lead singer of Bomba Estéreo, is the feminist goddess the world needs!
What practices are sustaining you?
I am an avid crafter so knitting and crocheting are part of my everyday practices with meditation and mindfulness. I can do all kinds of things while knitting such as reading, writing and even watching films in a darkened movie theater. By the way, I can actually knit with my eyes closed. I guess you could say it’s my superpower! Of course, spending time with my daughter is another life sustaining-activity for me. Now that she is a teenager though, I find myself competing for time with her friends and school-related activities. College is not far in the horizon either. More than ever, I treasure the times we have together. It won’t be long before I’m an empty nester and I’m not looking forward to it!