What is the narrative of your exhibition?
When I came here I hadn’t visited in years, but my grandparents are from Texas and my family still has property in east Texas. Being here conjured up so many memories from the past. My grandfather was shot and killed in 1933 and my nine-year-old father had to help my grandmother pick up his body and move it in a wagon. My dad didn’t talk about his father unless he was drinking and on occasion he would call me up saying “They shot my dad, they shot my dad!,” which became the title of the show. I thought of my dad as a strong man, so these calls were a 180-degree shift in my perception of him.
I originally wanted to make a video during my residency to take advantage of the opportunity I was given. And while that didn’t happen, the paintings became a storyboard for the narrative I would have shown in a video.
What was your process for the paintings?
When I go places I try to do a little bit of research. Everyone knows about the Alamo and probably played “cowboys and Indians” as children. I was just painting everything that reminded me of Texas and mixed it with some of the history. After what happened to my grandfather, there were other tragedies in my family that followed and some of those stories made their way into the exhibition.
What about the other images and objects in the space?
I went to a thrift store and found this photograph of a woman in a cap and gown—she’s graduated. My mother didn’t have the opportunity to graduate because of the path her life took, so including this picture is creating a new history in a way. I also included objects I found and some information from things I had been reading. Deciding which things to include in the exhibition was a challenge for me. Sometimes you have to be lost before you can be found. At the end of the residency, fellow artist-in-residence Oscar Murillo came to my studio, and I was so grateful that he could help me edit and find the narrative thread.