Traditional Family Values is a group exhibition that explores the makings of a chosen family, one that is born out of the necessity of moving away from home and entering independent adulthood or one that is born from the material conditions experienced as individuals. Featuring work by Arturo Agüero, Sarah Holman, and Marcella Mendez that reflects their experiences as immigrants and working class folks, queerness, or non-normativity, and the non-nuclear family is the main connective thread between the artists’ bodies of work.
Mendez explores the coming of age norms and rites of passage that boys experience through a very gendered perspective. However, unlike most boys who experience these coming of age obstacles with friends, peers, siblings, male adults, and father figures to guide them, she counts only on herself. Growing up on the other side of the male/female binary, she only has her knowledge and experiences of growing up female to figure out precisely how one learns to become a man. Agüero works with concepts of domesticity in industry, and the roles and responsibilities of a caregiver. As an educator, he feels responsible for fulfilling not only his students’ academic needs, but also guiding them through their psychosocial development. Support, redirection, and framing opportunities are themes in his work. Holman combines her father’s folklore with her own embodied experience by adopting his mannerisms and memories, and appropriating them into her performances and video art. With each work, she systematically catalogues and perpetuates her father’s oral histories. Each artist fulfills a traditional family role—a child, a mother, and a father, respectively—in a nontraditional way.
Traditional Family Values will include a home installation that consists of common living and dining room areas created collaboratively using pieces of furniture from each of the artists’ homes complete with a stylized painted portrait of their chosen family. The gallery will also house individual spaces—a laundry room for the caregiver, a woodshop for the paternal figure, and a makeshift boy scout tent for the child—within this constructed home that will highlight individual video and sculpture works. Taking cues from 1960s sitcoms, the installation will also include a video that portrays a caregiver attempting to satisfy the needs of her family, a distant father figure who seldom tolerates his own child’s antics, and a rebellious child who acts as an agitator while learning what is socially acceptable in this world.
Generous support for Center Space Project comes from the University Co-Op along with Robin and Trey Hancock.
Arturo Agüero is an artist and art educator living in Austin. Through performance art and sculptural installations, he incorporates product merchandising and the retail experience to critique the body’s relationship to clothing, its manufacturing, its socioeconomic cost, and its modes of consumption to highlight the often irrational relationships between bodies and objects. He received his BFA in Visual Art Studies from The University of Texas in May 2011. He has performed at Cardboard Love in 2009, and An Affair, Camp Shame, and Field Day in 2010. He has also exhibited sculptures at the Visual Art Center in the exhibitions Unveiled and Exit: 2011.
Sarah Holman is an artist living in Austin. She is a ceramicist, performance artist, and installation artist. She graduated from The University of Texas in May 2011 with a BFA in Studio Art. Before coming to UT, she showed a series of photographs at the Jung Center of Houston in 2006 and sculptures at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s Perspective 156: Impulse in 2007. She has also done live performances and showed video work at various performance events including Hell Yeah and Cardboard Love in 2009 and Field Day in 2010. Most recently she had a video piece, Woodworking, in Exit: 2011 at the Visual Arts Center.
Marcella Mendez is an artist and activist living in Austin. Her work utilizes sculptures, installations, and performances as forms of dissent from cultural hegemony. These objects, spaces, and personas are created to question, highlight, and disrupt societal conventions used to maintain oppression of marginalized groups, particularly women and people of color. These works emphasize hierarchical relationships and critique structures that uphold these relationships. She is received her BFA in Studio Art and her BA in Gender Studies from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2011. She has participated in group performance exhibitions at The University of Texas and the Moose Lodge in Austin. She has also exhibited at the FAB Gallery in Austin and is featured in the Permanent University of Texas Metals Collection.