Ni de aquí, ni de allá — neither here nor there.
Muralist Victor “MARKA27″ Quiñonez was born in Mexico, but he grew up in America. When he visits Mexico, they treat him as a foreigner, no matter how fluently he speaks the language and how fervently the culture beats in his heart. In America, despite having spent most of his life here, he’s seen as an immigrant.
Despite the ways in which people otherize him, he uses his art to help reclaim the narratives of people of color.
For Día de los Muertos, he created a print and mural, “Amora Hasta La Muerte,” as part of a celebration in Worcester that will then be exhibited at Worcester City Hall through the end of the year.
“The Mexican history I carry with me is constantly evolving. No matter what culture you come from, don’t ever pigeonhole yourself or ever think you have to conform to somebody’s idea of who and how you should be,” he said. “There is no one way to be Black, no one way to be Mexican, no one way to be wherever you are from. You first need to be authentically yourself before you even think about carrying on your traditions.”
What does a beautiful resistance mean to you?
First and foremost being blessed to do what I do, having the ability to control a narrative and guide people visually. Paul Goodnight said whoever controls the image controls the mind. When you walk into any museum and most public spaces, you don’t see images of us. For artists of color to be able to change that, for me to give us our own validation our own value through our own eyes — that’s what makes my life a beautiful resistance.
What gives you joy?
Family. You know, faith. Knowing that the epitome of God, no matter what you believe in, is rooted in love. Anything beyond that is politics. I believe if all faiths went by that core root to love and respect each other, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in.
Why is it important for us to recognize Día de los Muertos?
Día de los Muertos is a tradition started thousands of years ago with the Aztecs and it evolved over time. It is rooted in remembering your ancestors. Death is not the end. It’s a transition into thinking about each other on a spiritual level, holding each other’s ancestors and relatives stories. Sharing those stories with your grandchildren and your children.
We all have loved ones that we miss. What I love — and every family goes through this — is when you meet an elder and that elder says you remind me so much of your great grandmother. Those kind of connections generations have with younger generations that are authentically yours and specific to your family. Día de los Muertos keeps us all in that state of mind of keeping things passed on from generation to generation. There are connections between you and your ancestors you have never met. That’s the beautiful thing. We are always connected, even after we pass on.