JUANITA MENESES

Artist Statement – Ni Aquí Ni Allá/Not Here or There

 

My latest series, entitled “Ni Aquí Ni Allá/Not Here or There,” marks the first chapter of a body of work that uses desert landscapes and conflicted spaces as points of departure for exploring societal fears. In this work, which consists of mixed media paintings and drawings, there is an underlying violence: people are being chased down, something or someone is being smuggled, guns are being fired. The inferred and yet absent characters could be drug dealers, smugglers, tourists, border patrols, border crossers, soldiers, or minutemen. They are missing, leaving their cars and other objects to speak for them. My love of landscape and visual play allows me to inject a sense of dark humor and the absurd into these worlds.

 

I am inspired by fictional writers such as Salman Rushdie, Haruki Murakami, Jose Saramago, and Italo Calvino who create fictional worlds interlaced with contemporary social concerns. Various websites and public media such as the American Border Patrol, vigilante groups, storm watchers, soldiers’ blogs, monster trucks, and the nightly news are also important to my research, as they track ever changing phenomena that impact our social space.

 

In my work I blend these sources and familiar objects such as trucks, tanks and fires (to name but a few) with open ended narratives that give the viewer a comfortable starting point to develop the sequence of events that most reflects his or her views and ideas. What might look like an illegal episode to some might be a friendly encounter to others, thereby allowing us to explore our biases.