In the Philippine countryside where I grew up in, superstitions, the paranormal, and animism are incredibly palpable, and woven with folk catholicism and pop culture. As a kid, I would even utter incantations before passing through certain areas where spirits are known to reside. This socialization is why for me, it is natural to imagine places as gateways to other realms—they can be the psyche, the unconscious, the imagination or the unknown. Space becomes a magical place one can transform, project oneself into and enter with openness and empathy. As I marvel at the California Redwood trees, I have recollections of the haunting-looking, sacred Acacia trees of my childhood (Grove 1-4). In my recent portal works, the negative spaces are inspired by native amulets as I create new meanings for them, while the color purple in Liminal space 3 is inspired by the color of ube, my favorite childhood ice cream. Through non-linear remembrances, and ethnic memory, I find grounding in the present and esteem in the past, while embracing the multiple cultural and personal influences one carries.
My practice is informed by my Filipino culture and experiences emigrating to California during my early adolescence, and the adoptee experience. These are overlapping and confusing experiences which I continue to make sense of in my art. In my paintings and works on paper, I reflect upon the shifting concepts of homes and identities through the liminal spaces within landscapes and architectures. I am inspired by various scholars, namely Gloria Anzaldua, Bell Hooks and Leny Mendoza-Strobel, who gave voices to my lived experiences. They called them the margins and the borderlands, which are the psychic spaces that the marginalized navigates.The in-between may be sites of alienation, yet where transformation, decolonization, and personal and collective healing can transpire.
The shifting perspectives, and play with both abstraction/representation and positive/negative spaces allude to the psychic experiences of how locations can simultaneously be familiar, otherworldly, and unstable (Liminal Space 1&2). My MFA thesis is driven by my dream to present these multiple spaces together, creating visual and spatial experiences for the viewer. The recurring abandoned architectures, trees and rocks all carry a sense of time and erosion by the elements, where feelings of loss, melancholy and desolation are projected through the colors and composition. They become vessels to reflect upon the melancholic process occupied by diasporic and adoptee experiences. Painting enriches my connection to the surrounding natural and man-made worlds, where the logical and illogical, and the known and the unknown can exist together.
©2015-2021 Cherisse Alcantara