Artist: Sheila Garrett Rodriguez
Exhibition: Were We Even Here
Media: Mixed Media, Window Screen, Oil on Canvas, acrylic
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery East
About the Artist
In this week’s visit at the CSULB art galleries, I had the pleasure of meeting Sheila Garrett Rodriguez. She grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from CSULB where she earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Drawing and painting and is currently on her last semester trying to complete her MFA in Fiber Arts. She took a break in between degrees as she was a stay at home mom after having her child.
In the exhibition, Were We Even Here, there are different pieces that make up the exhibition. There is a painting that uses oil paint on a canvas. The painting is of a female with her back facing us while having her arms stretched out to the side holding onto barbwire. Instead of a head, it is a house that the front is facing us. There are colorful bright flowers that is coming down from the house and through her back. Then there are different pieces that use different materials from homes, like window screens, a bed frame, drywall, and a chair. With each of these pieces of a house, there is some type of embroidery of flowers blooming. The embroideries are bright colors, gives you a sense as it gives new life to these old used pieces. The bed frame has embroidery going from the headboard to the feet of the frame, as well as dust that looks like it’s coming off the bed onto the floor, giving a sense of how old it is. There was also a projection going on to the white wall, with a video showing someone cooking. On top of the projector there was a dishes of Latin heritage.
Sheila Garrett Rodriguez’s exhibition, Were We Even Here, was inspired from her life story as she had moved over 30 times to different homes and her memories and connections she had to each one. She stated that the painting with the naked lady and the house on her head was a painting of herself. She made it to represent how people always judge you from how your home looks like and it is something you cannot get away from. Your home is where you could be yourself, but the way your house is does not represent who you are. The colors she used in her embroidery is to represent her Mexican heritage as she took pride of where she came from and how she was raised. As she moved to each home, they would decorate it with things that will represent her heritage.
When I first stepped into the exhibition, I noticed right away the pieces of drywall with the colorful embroidery. It was interesting to see her use the dry wall as an art piece when broken drywall is usually seen as trash or not wanted anymore. She was able to give life to these, as well as her grandmothers old bed frame. She did a wonderful job on giving the sense of how a home is made of things you are brought up with, including here her Mexican heritage. Hearing her story about moving so many times just made this exhibition more special and I enjoyed it more and more when looking through each piece. For me my home is everything, I have many memories and connections here that will be part of me forever. For her to display this in her exhibition made it very personal and I thank her for that for sharing it to the people.