Neta is highlighting different artists across South Texas. Our featured artist for February was Laredo printmaker Ashley Tristán. In their work, you can feel the South Texas vibes from their woodcuts and paintings with subjects like La Lechuza and Home Remedies. Here is Ashley Tristán’s experience as a Latinx artist in and out of Laredo:
“While studying Studio Art at the University of Texas, I mostly worked in printmaking which is made up of relief, serigraphy/screenprinting, intaglio, and making artist books. I made tons of work about my identity, my childhood, and how la frontera has shaped me.
“While some of my work is political, it is also satire to help is the pain of inequality and the racism and colorism we sometimes face in the media and even in our everyday lives. Anxiety also plays such a large part in my work and I think it goes hand in hand with the struggle I had finding my identity. Most of all, this work was made for not just me but for my home and those who may also have trouble identifying with their culture or who have always had pride in their identity.”
“In 2011, I moved to Austin for about three years. It was a sort of culture shock moving away to a city where there were so many types of cultures around and people who spoke many different languages. Even though there were many folks I got along with, I always missed home every day but most of all I missed everything that made Laredo and living on the border so unique.
“Before having moved away from Laredo, I would deny my identity of being a Latinx of Mexican descent. I struggled with my identity and didn’t want to be associated with the terrible stereotypes that had always been placed on latin@s. But after being away for so long, I realized that I was different and that my culture did play a large role in my identity as a person.
“Being from la frontera, we do things a little differently. We speak both English & Spanish at the same time, we pronounce things differently, and we even have our own kind of slang. We have our religions, our rosaries, our Virgen de Guadalupe, our food, our tacos, our piñatas, our Quinceañeras, our Dia de los Muertos, our calaveras, our sub-cultures of chol@s, tejan@s, chican@s, xicanxs, bruj@s, cuerander@s, and of course, our pride for both being American and being of Mexican descent.
Even though we may not all not completely identify with these things, we can still recognize it in our everyday life and that’s something to be proud of. That’s something I learned to be proud of. I accepted my culture, the color of my skin, and now embrace every bit of the border life that I can.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for March’s featured artist!