Series Name: Mi Abuelita Me Contesto ( My Grandmother Answered Me)
I am named after my mother’s father, Catarino, who passed over a decade before I was born. It is only in this shared naming that I have a connection to my grandfather. My understanding of the life he lived, comes from the memories he left behind with my mother and my grandmother. Taking advantage of my grandfather’s ghostlike and glorified presence in my life, I use him as a physical and symbolic idol for my ancestral history.
Utilizing Café Bustelo coffee packaging, I have created collages consisting of my grandfather’s image, food goods, personal letters I have written to him, and hand painted patterns found in my grandmother’s home. Inspired by artists like Belkis Ayón and Frida Kahlo, I wish to create and portray a mythical world in which my grandfather is a mysterious, iconic figure. Using clean, simplistic line work, I reduce his image down to a silhouette leaving only trace details of his person. The repetition of his image combined with its changing obscurity and aesthetics alludes to the ambiguous, fluctuating nature of memory and history as it passes down.
Combining his repetitive image with consumer goods and familial imagery allows me to relay my own experience to his life, and bring him to my present. Café Bustelo is a regularly consumed staple found in the homes of many Bronx residents. The brightly colored red, blue and yellow bricks were a common sight in my childhood home. Using the packaging allows me to convey a sense of both familial and cultural acceptance, but also brings into question the reality of coffee as a good and its history in many Latinx countries.
To open up this experience, I have created an altar inspired by the form of my grandmother’s cabinet. Stained with coffee, the altar holds a combination of objects and candy whose flavors allude to a variety of Latinx goods and whose forms reference the candy found in many Bronx bodegas . Taking inspiration from Felix Gonzalez-Torres, I invite viewers to grab and consume candy of their choice. Making the altar interactive, viewers have the opportunity to take communion, and reconnect with their own ancestry and familial history. Space is also provided for individuals to feel free to give their own offerings.
Recalling from food goods and forms from my childhood, I utilize the image of my grandfather in an attempt to connect with, investigate and exalt a past ancestor whose face and name I share.
Katherine Miranda is a non-binary artist whose work reflects upon the distortion/creation of memory, history and identity. This series titled, Mi Abuelita Me Contesto (My Grandmother Answered Me) , is taken from a lyric of Café (Coffee) by Eddie Palmieri; a song loved by their paternal grandfather. By combining their memories of their paternal grandparents with the love story of their maternal grandparents, they seek to reflect upon their own identity and the human condition.
1) Katherine Miranda, My Grandmother Answered Me, and I Answered Back, (Digital Rendering), (Wood, Coffee, Acrylic, Candy), 3.5 ft x 4.5 ft x 11.5 in, 2020
Due to the quarantine, Katherine was unable to fully complete their altar. However, they have created a computer model, using Fusion 360, to depict their vision of what the piece would be when completed. This rendering features the brands of candy that they are planning to use; as well as their other piece, I Asked (Memories), which is centered on top of the altar. Meant to be a space of reflection and community, they wished for viewers to feel free to interact with the piece and ‘pull out’ the candy or candies of their choice. An animation of the functionality of the candy boxes is shown in the video provided in the link through Youtube. Each candy flavor is meant to be a reflection of food items that have long, complicated histories in Latinx countries. Some of the candies shown are banana laffy taffies, pineapple big slice pops, lemon heads and charleston chews which are common sights in Bronx bodegas . Each of the candy’s wrappers are also reflective of the red, blue and yellow colors found on Café Bustelo packaging.
2) Katherine Miranda, I Asked (Memories), (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging), 62.5 in x 39.5 in x 39.5 in, 2020
3) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering), (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging), 10 in x 10.25 in, 2020
4) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering) #2, (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging),, 9.5 in x 6.75 in, 2020
5) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering) #3, (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging), 10.5 in x 9 in, 2020
6) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering) #4, (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging), , 9.75 in x 6.75 in, 2020
7) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering) #5, (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging), , 9.25 in x 6 in, 2020
8) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering) #6, (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging), 9.25 in x 6.75 in, 2020
9) Katherine Miranda, Memory (The Answering) #7, (Acrylic and image transfer on Bustelo packaging, sewn fabric), 14.25 in x 12.5 in, 2020