Dora Xochitl Lopez Mata

:: AGE

27

:: LOCATION

Ontario, California, USA

:: MEDIUM

Painting

:: IDENTIFIES AS

Fat MeXicana which is a combination of being Xicana and Mexicana

What is your preferred medium?

As a child back in Mexico we helped my mother paint barro. Usually like filling in shapes and stuff.  So for me, as an adult I find it relaxing just to grab a brush and paint little boxes, frames, and now wooden shapes to make earrings. I create different things with color that help me engaged in self-care.

How do you identify?

How do you identify? How you identify in the world. Identity can include sexuality, gender, class, language, ability, race/ethnicity, religion, perspective. Your answer    I self-identified myself as Fat MeXicana which is a combination of being Xicana and Mexicana. My identity is complicated as many parts of me intersect like my sexuality, language, race, size, and status. I identified as Queer even if others question my queerness because of my partner. I believe that sexuality is one of those identities that cannot be static and instead is fluid. Mi cuerpo desires different things and as for mind might like something else. It is something that I am still figuring out but as I go I love deeply. A huge part of who I am is reflected in my language. As I tend to mix and code-switch a lot between Spanish and English, the combining of both languages shows the complexity of mi ser as I let my lengua make a rhythm that cannot be tamed by social expectations. Like Gloria Anzaldua describes You cannot tame a wild tongue. Being a MeXicana in this society is a form of resistance as we face a lot of racism. After the elections, I was called a “beaner.” Something that I am proud because I love beans, but it was said with so much hate. Therefore, I pull from my culture to survived in many ways. I wear my colorful embroidery shirts proud, and I know that I could only go forward. Thinking this way is possible because spiritually I am connected to mother earth through curanderismo and by listening to my body’s needs. I am a proud Gordita who loves herself by being just me. Una muxer Xingona that believes there is magic in all of us.

As a womxn, why do you think it is important to create?

Growing up in a low-income household we did not have much money because of this I saw my mother create different things such as our dresses, reusing stuff to make us toys, and even assisting her making different things to sell to others. I remember as children we sold food during the festival in our town. The money with made went for stuff we needed. Even if this was something that I did not like as a child, I now value it as a great lesson. The womxn in my life are Xingonas who work hard to give all of us a good life. My grandmother and mother gave me the best gift of learning to be resourceful by recycling items and repurposing them. Me ensenaro el poder de crear. In other words, I believe it is important to create as for some of us is a way of surviving.

What has been your proudest moment as an artist/creative?

The happiest and proudest moment has been when I got the opportunity to work with my mother on our Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda at California State University, Northridge. We both work together to put our hearts out on this particular tradition for us. It was an emotional process for both my mother and I. We did an ofrenda to honor our seres queridos. It was through this process that I found stories that are unique to my family. The title of our Ofrenda was Amor Eterno inspired by Juan Gabriel’s song. Un Amor Eterno that lives even after death.  We believe that our love for those who have passed away to the spirit world is forever. It was through this tradition that we celebrated the life, death and between. Putting together each item was something that provided me with so much healing and peace as death was something I used to fear and now I honor. It saw it all done that I realized that it is important to continue the traditions that our families carry.

 

How do you define love?

I define love as a fluid process of growth and understanding. Love is non-static, and it is the essence of our bodies. Love is sweet and complex. I think for Latinx like the one myself love is accepting ourselves as worthy of love.

Describe the space that you like to create in?

I create my work in different places. It all depends on my mood. I have a designated space in my house where there is a table with all my materials. However, sometimes I work in my mesita and other times in my bed, sofa, nature, car, and coffee shops. Honestly, I make it work out depending on my schedule. However, I do I listen to body’s needs. As sometimes I find it more convincing for my art to be surrounded in space where I burn copal, sage, and burn candles. Personally, I enjoy an environment that calms me down. My room is set up with art that inspires me, and it is my favorite place to be beside nature.

What do you like to listen to while you create?

Music to me is life. So the music I listen to while I make my earrings includes La Santa Cecilia, Entre Mujeres, Irene Diaz, Carla Morrison, Lila Downs, Quetzal, Juan Gabriel, and Selena. These are some of the artists that brighten my day or pretty much, their music allows me to be a Llorona.

What is your earliest memory of making art?

My earliest memory of creating art is when I was six years old, and I would help my mother paint barro(clay) to create artesanias. It was a way for us to do something fun and at the same way earn some money. I did not see it as work as for me painting was so much fun. I let my hand grab the brush and just paint using bright colors. The best part was getting dirty with the bright colors was my favorite part.

Do you have any words of advice for young womxn/artist/creators out there?

The advice I would have wanted someone to share with me is just to follow your dreams. To create without thinking if it has a particular purpose, as the art will guide you. I also learned to identify myself as an artist because it was difficult for myself to use this word. So I am just myself a person that creates for the purpose of staying motivated and inspiring others. It is also important to learn from others and share your knowledge as helping each other is powerful.  Be bold and be you.

What social issues do you care about most?

I care about a lot of issues that affect my community. Some of these social issues are racism, sexism, ableism, classism, sizeism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the criminalization of black and brown bodies. I believe that as I learn more about my community and my family I have seen the ways we resist oppression.

What could you not live without?

I cannot live without colors, music,books, and art. I am the type of person that loves all kinds of colors. Art gives me life.

How do you make time to create?

Making time to create either my earrings, draw, and do some coloring is difficult with my busy schedule. However, I know about the importance of taking care of one’s self. Therefore, for me, self-care has been my priority. I make sure to schedule time every week even if it a couple of hours. Doing this has made me much happier and to stay more center.

How does your mental health affect your work?

I believe that one thing that has come out of my work is working on my mental health. I have difficult days where my anxiety is at high levels. I also struggle with depression. Before I would not mention it to no one, as I appear to be a very outgoing person. To be honest, there are days that I rarely want to do stuff. So on those days I am kind to my mind, body, spirit, and remind myself to create art to help me ease the pain. I have also become more comfortable with drawing fat brown bodies. As a way to promote body love. A lot of my drawings are for my personal reflection, but I am looking into sharing them as a series. Also, I also take care of myself by using materials from Cantos de La Tierra. Their Enfocate oil has let my creative energy flow.

Who are your influences/inspirations?

I have so many individuals that inspired me like my mother. She is the person that motivates me the most. Each day I share with her what I am working and always me supports me. Either by giving feedback or helping me brainstorm how to create something. Other individuals that inspired me the most are my soul sisters. Chingonas that keep me moving forward. I cannot also forget about my favorite authors. Like Gloria Anzaldua who changed my life with her work. Sandra Cisneros who beautifully writes and touches my heart. Anel Flores who her work woke my body. Ana Castillo who made me questions many of my ideas. The list goes on, but their influence on me is something I hold very precious.

What message do you want to spread with your art?

The message I want to express with my art is acceptance of one’s self by embracing one’s culture and just being a Xingon@. Everything I create is made with tons of love. Love that I have gotten from people that I read and that are part of my life. Be you because you are magic.

 

*Photo credits: Yesica Catalan and Pedro Rivas