A Woman’s Body is a Battlefield

by Isis Rodriguez

I was raised Catholic to a Mexican-American father and a Puerto Rican mother. One of the biblical stories that affected me most, was the story of Adam and Eve. The fact that Eve was punished harder (painful childbirth and subservient to man) than Adam, because she offered Adam the apple, made me determined to never be like her.

Therefore, I was not an ordinary girl that played with dolls and wore dresses. I was a tomboy who preferred climbing trees, riding bicycles and obsessed about drawing cartoons. My friends were mostly boys. I felt free with them because I could run just as fast as them, fight like them and played rough with them. I was their equal or so I thought, until one day one of them snapped my bra at school and taunted me for having "boobies." The incident left me feeling betrayed and "gross,",the kid word for "ashamed." I realized that I was kicked out of the Boys' Club forever and ended up in a place called "nepantla."

The word "nepantla" was first introduced to me while reading the spiritual essay, "La Conciencia de La Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness" by Chicana philosopher,Gloria Anzaldúa in 1990. She had redefined the 16th century Aztec word that meant "in the middle" to mean "torn between two ways" in order to describe the insecurity, indecisiveness and confusion of the children of immigrants. Being a mestiza of Puerto Rican and Mexican-American put me there by her definition, but being stuck in the mother/whore syndrome left me completely divided.

The aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly and Uber sex scandals confirmed all the incidents that had happened to me after the bra snapping episode. The truth is a woman's body is a battlefield. From the onset of adolescence, we are told that our body is a temple, to be on guard at all the time and never trust, for fear of the consequences: rape, a child out of wedlock, disgracing God, the family and others. As we become an adult, we are expected at some point to surrender ourselves to become the ultimate archetype of respect, to become a mother. And if not, "What's wrong with us?" So the mother/whore syndrome takes hold. We are forever the symbols of motherhood, sexuality and beauty whether we like it or not.

On October 14th, I launched a new series of art works that I started 10 years ago to address my personal nepantla, called "Legends from the Realm of Nepantla." The purpose of "Legends" is to rid myself of blame, shame, fear, humiliation and guilt by using universal symbolic images, the ski mask, the rooster, lingerie and military uniforms, to name a few, to paint the story of a woman in conflict, divided, "torn between two ways." Because this woman is stuck in the conflict, she goes on a quest searching for peace to heal herself and to get out of nepantla. I have over 50 more paintings to go. I hope that I can use my art as an educational tool, to show people the process of conflict moving toward hope and finally resolution.
I invite all of you to visit Galeria Nepantla, my new gallery that currently houses "Legends from the Realm of Nepantla" located at Pablo Yañez 9, Col. Independencia, San Miguel de Allende. Hours: Thursday 12noon to 5pm, Friday 2pm to 5pm & Saturday 12noon to 5pm.
121 1022 isis@isisrodriguez.com

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Isis Rodriguez received a BFA in Painting from the University of Kansas in 1988 and moved to San Francisco California to pursue her career as an artist. In 2008, she attended the radical artist residency, "La Curtiduria" in Oaxaca de Juarez, where she embarked on the series, "Legends from the Realm of Nepantla." There her painting "La Contemplación" was selected for curator Gloria Maldonado Anso's "Insurrectas y Estridentes en México A 100 Años de Simone de Beauvoir", Cervantino Art Festival, Museo Alhóndiga de Granaditas. She has exhibited her work in museums and galleries internationally for 25 years and currently runs her own gallery, Galería Nepantla in Col. Independencia. She also teaches life drawing classes at Galeria San Francisco. 
www.isisrodriguez.com 
121 1022

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