Artist: Sheila Garrett Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Sheila Garrett Rodriguez is a Graduate student at CSULB and is working towards a Masters of Fine Arts in the School of Arts Fibers Program. She got her Bachelors degree at CSULB as well, but received it in a different program in the school of art. She said that she discovered the Fibers program and it really interested her because of her background in embroidery that she grew up learning how to do. Her favorite fiber is wool even though she doesn’t use it in her current exhibit, Were We Even Here. Her work explores ideas about memories, culture, defining ones self, and what a “home” means.
Were We Even Here includes 10 different installations. The piece that sheila spent the most time on was a piece entitled No Trespassing: Borders and Bodies. This is a canvas painting of a women that has no clothes on. Her head is replaced with a house that she is holding up with barbwire. The painting is covered in flowers that have been painted on and also embroidered onto the women’s body, the house, and the paintings background. Some other pieces in her exhibition entitled Screened In I and Screened In II are window screens that Sheila embroidered with flower designs. Another piece she has that is similar to these two screen designs is House for Sale. This also consists of window screens that have been embroidered but they are in a triptych style. The middle of this trio of window screens has a photo of a house in which a for sale sign is placed above it. Another type of piece that she includes in her exhibit is using metal screens that she put plaster on and also embroidered with flower designs. She includes two of these in Were We Even Here and named them From the Rubble and Folding Rubble. On one wall, she has a piece called Space is Inside that is some pieces of drywall with wall paper on them. One piece has a canvas drawing of a pair of feet on it that have nail polish on their toes. She also used some furniture. She has a chair that has yarn running through it. This chair is entitled, Here Take This Seat. The other piece of furniture lays in middle of the room. It is a bed frame that has yarn on the left side of it and had some dye on the bottom half of the bed. This piece is entitled But It’s Your Great-Grandmother’s Bed.The last part of her exhibit is a video of her doing everyday things like cooking and sewing. It is called When I’m Gone.
Were We Even Here is about how a home that you make defines you and how you define the home. Sheila talks about how she has lived in a lot of different homes and wonders if things she personalized in them are still in the house. When asked why she used barbwire to hold up the house in No Trespassing: Borders and Bodies. She asked if the house was holding up the person or was the person holding up the house.
Sheila embodies her culture through how much embroidery she includes in her exhibit. She was taught at a young age to embroider and even teaches her own kids to embroider and the basics to it. She brings this together with her idea about homes with placing it with drywall, window panels, for sale signs, ect.
She also includes her family into her exhibit with the furniture. The bed used in her exhibit was he grandmother’s bed and she inherited it from her dad who just passed away. the dye that is placed on the bed is a cultural aspect too. the dye is made from bugs and is shwon in the video installation on how to crush the bugs.
I really enjoyed Were We Even Here because I could relate to Sheila and her piece really touched some sensitive parts of my own life. I used to move around a lot when I was younger just like Sheila. It made me think about all the houses I lived in and the personal things that I left on the walls, the stairways, and the walkways. I also though about how these many different places with their architecture and even just the situation of living there have shaped me. Like if I didn’t live with my grans parents for the majority of my childhood, would I still be the person I am today? Would I know the cultural aspects of my family? I’m not sure but these questions make me think about how her art relates to my life.