Suzy González Paints the People of the Corn
According to the Mayan creation story, humans are spun from white and yellow corn, a precious crop at the epicenter of their culture.
Referring to herself as Xicanx—a genderless term emphasizing Indigenous Mexican or Mesoamerican roots—Suzy González translates the Mayan creation story into colorful figure works layered with dyed and painted corn husks. Shucked of kernels and stained in rainbow colors, each husk appears taut, stretched like skin across the bones of the canvas. “The corn husks represent the skin of the figures, recalling Mesoamerican beliefs that our very beings are created from maíz,” Suzy writes in her artist statement, using the Spanish name for corn.
Based in San Antonio, Suzy also decries the climate disasters thrust on Indigenous populations by colonization. In the ghostly piece “Float,” she softens the borders between a physical body and a body of water by using overlapping monochromatic husks, a design that grapples with quickly rising sea levels. “Water is life, but it can also be death—nothing has just one side to it,” she writes in an interview with Ofrenda Magazine, a publication that explores Xicanx and Latinx identity and healing.
As a vegan, Suzy embraces a symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. “I find interest in the decolonization of diet, or a desire to reclaim the pre-colonial plant-based nourishment of my ancestors through food and herbalism,” she explains. “I analyze what it means to decolonize art and to embrace the lessons that the earth has to teach us.” Created specifically for “animal lovers and plant eaters,” Suzy’s Xicana Vegan zine is packed with plant-based recipes (vegan queso, yum!), inspiring interviews, and recommended reading.
Approaching her work from Indigenous perspectives, Suzy rejects black and white binaries for a more nuanced expression of identity. “My work serves to work through my own intersections and to strive for intercultural conversations with folks outside of my identities,” she says. “This, I hope, will open doors to compassion and healing in this world of destruction.”
“I […] desire to reclaim the pre-colonial plant-based nourishment of my ancestors through food and herbalism.” — Suzy González
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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