October 12, 2014, Zona del Sol, Santa Fe, NM
by Aly Kreikemeier
Walking into the art space at Zona del Sur last Sunday-- cold cement floors, neatly chopped vegetables and hummus, scattered markers and paper, and a projector looping illegible symbols against the back wall -- I had to wonder what was in store for the three hours ahead of "codex making".
"I am a Chicano artist", Israel introduced himself, cycling through a snippet of his story: the political implications of identifying as Chicano, the barrio that raised him in L.A., how he squeaked through high school with a sub 1.5-something GPA. "They were ready to ____ me by the time I was done" he said, smiling warmly as he lifted his leg to kick dismissal into the air.
We began the cryptic workshop with projected images of "asemic writing" -- a post-literate exploration, having no specific semantic content. Israel had me when, in just ten or so minutes, he led us into an exploration of how violently we've come to communicate with one another; the importance of making space to come back to the heart in a language where labels invite division.
Abstraction, is the doorway to the unknown.
We dabbled with these profound questions for just a few minutes: how can communities come together and really listen in order to communicate from the heart? How does art, whether asemic writing or abstract painting, offer a medium for desperately needed connection through truer communication? It was a dribble of curiosity, an opening from which we could launch into creating.
The next three hours were spent drawing, painting and creating, seated together but engaging our distinct voices. We practiced poetic communication, guided into writing prompts around identity and engagement. We constructed our own enigmatic languages and symbols. We came together outside in a standing circle, whipped by the cool fall breeze, to move our bodies and bring our voices together.
As the workshop drew to a close, we came together and wove our codices-in-progress into a collective story - reading aloud the words that wound around our pages -symbols interspersed with spattered paint, geometric markings and bursts of color before pegando them to one another in order to form a unified piece over twenty feet long.
As we listened to each other, we folded our individual pages into a unified piece. In that space we practiced, if only for a few hours, a way of connecting and communicating that invites humanity. Laughter, freedom, and play marked an afternoon of strangers coming together, suspending cynicism and difference, in order to step into play, creativity, and connection.
images - Israel F. Haros Lopez