Even though it was a busy day at work, and I was a little tired, I decided to go to the Artist Panel last night at the Carver Museum. And I'm sure glad I went. The presenters all African American women in the arts were excellent and had different qualities that contributed to the lively discussion, Caulleen’s spunky attitude, Deborah who spoke from the heart, Cherise Smith with the historical background.

I recently moved to Austin and have been craving this sort of discussion for quite some time. It has also been hard for me to meet folks who are committed to art and community, and at last I felt a sense of reassurance that there are others like me in Austin. I was excited to meet Arturo Palacios from the Dougherty Arts Center, Beatrice Thomas from the Carver Museum and Wura a young sculptor who is Nigerian-American.

There were also moments of confusion and anger for me, I thought it was insensitive to bring up the word “mainstream” into this discussion. I also felt that the mainstream was alluded to and measured upon success as a monetary value. I’m Salvadoran-American, but my community background has been based on working with Chicano artists. I drew so many parallels from the discussion yesterday with the struggles of Chicano artists for Identity, Representation and Accessibility to resources. I think the struggle is one in the same and my hope is that we can begin to think in terms of multicultural arts programming. Art history is being re-written as we speak and its important for artists to think in a global perspective. If we are all part of this polycentric visual culture, that is when we begin to redefine the mainstream or at the very least challenge it. Its time to surpass boundaries of nationalism and ethnicity in contemporary art, while continuing to project our own identities and dreams.

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