Changarrito Residency: Ariana Gomez

Aug. 1

Aug. 1 @ 8:00 am Aug. 31 @ 5:00 pm

Rootedness / Photography / 2022

About the Artist

Originally from Austin, TX Ariana Gomez received her BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2010. She has spent the last twelve years in New York City working commercially as a digital tech on photoshoots as well as a studio manager for a still life photographer. Recently, Gomez returned home to pursue a graduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin in their Studio Art Program focusing on photography and just completed her first year.

Her current project is in-progress as she navigates the direction and feeling. Gomez is exploring the idea of home as a myth or idealization that exists solely in thought. The idea of home is a strong one, embedded in each of our psyches as something idealistic – a place we long for, or strive towards, or rally behind in our cultural, spiritual, or political identities. Often, it becomes our entire identity, taken over by our need to create a space that is all our own. So then, what happens to the self when the idea of home is connected to a sense of identity and inevitably the myth comes into question?

Gomez has been exploring aspects of her identity through photography for the last five years. It began with a project titled The Blue of Distance (an homage to Rebecca Solnit’s essay of the same name) in which she delved into the death of her father, a figure in her life she didn’t quite understand until after she lost him. She began to personify his identity through the Texas landscape, searching and dredging the hot earth for a glimpse of him. In this search, her own sense of identity came into question, and she started turning over the desert landscape for the smallest glimpse of herself. This project culminated in a single handmade artist’s book – a small memorial and reminder of her father, that desert mirage.

Gomez now explores the land, the earth, and her memories to understand where and what she considers to be home. It was only upon returning to the place of her birth, that she realized home is an idealization and amalgamation of every single memory and experience we choose to cling to. Home exists as a myth would; powerful, repeated, collective affirmation. Ariana Gomez’s photographs exist within this liminal realm. She questions the idea that home, as landscape, exists in reality. Rather, it exists in the space between reality and abstraction.

Artist Statement

“My mother speaks of plants. To her, we are created with roots that snake down into the deep dark earth inserting themselves like veins into our hearts, into our souls. For her, this is truly home. We all have a soul home. And hers has never been Texas.

My mother was uprooted. Her soul home is Puerto Rico, the place she only remembers as a small child when everything is towering, and colors are the most vivid. Her roots tore as she boarded a plane at eight years old, never to come back. She speaks of unlived lives in the lush watery world where she last thrived.

My father spoke of God. To him, Texas was God’s Country and there could be no other place in the world more important. Texas was his soul home. He died here, having fully rooted himself into the semi-arid soil.

I speak of juxtapositions, and insertion. My mother and father now occupy parallel existences of time while I insert myself into their memories, dredging the hot earth for a glimpse of their life together. I used to spend my time only looking for my father. However, in searching for my father in the desert landscape, I found my mother attempting to ground herself within this foreign earth. She tries and fails every day to root herself into the densely packed soil of my father’s landscape, her children’s landscape, her perceived home. Through this discovery, I have subconsciously linked the three of us together through place, through time, through memory; a trinity of searching. Thinking on my mother’s abstraction of home, I have come to understand her as water – flowing freely and abundantly within my life. As water, she is stable yet powerful, quiet yet thunderous. Immersed in water, she is whole and calm. I’ve come to see my father like the aftermath of a rainstorm on drought choked lands. But my mother is the eye of that storm; the one who grounded us and created a life within the chaos. Their balance is the guiding force for all my image making decisions and it’s almost impossible to find one without the other.

As inserted observer, where do I fit in? What is my place in this vast sea of memory between two juxtaposed landscapes and where do my roots extend? Through the process of searching, I explore these questions with photography and situate myself within the two landscapes as a bridge. We are three – past, present and future; a trinity of faith in the earth, in home, in identity. Only in this triad will I be able to understand my parent’s relationship to their rooted homes, and the myth that can stem from my version of home. Home is the idealization of the very real land I search for every day. It is the identity I tie myself to in order to root myself into the earth. It is the diluted memory that flows through the tendrils of my mind, searching for the soil that I can call home.”

Artists have the opportunity to sell their art on the Changarrito cart in front of the Museum (or an offsite location, as representative for the Museum during various Austin festivals). Changarreando expands the reach of the artist by presenting their gallery online, while allowing the option to sell merch over Instagram and receive 100% of the sale.

Ariana Gomez will be at the Mexic-Arte Museum featuring her artwork on the Changarrito cart right outside the Museum’s entrance on August 10th, 11th, 17th & 18th from 12-3PM.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates on original work available for purchase and behind the scenes of the artist’s work, space, and creative process.

Changarrito Instagram Live Interview – 8/29 @5pm

You’re invited to Mexic-Arte Museum’s Changarrito Instagram Live event with artist Ariana Gomez, taking place virtually through the Museum’s Instagram account @mexic_arte! Isabel Servantez, Mexic-Arte Museum’s Curator of Exhibitions and Director Of Programs, will facilitate the virtual event with a series of questions directed at the artist including a Q&A taking place during the last 20 minutes of the event.