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The Student News Site of Mt. San Jacinto College

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The History and Mind Behind Dulce Soledad Ibarra’s Madre Myths

An Identity and Grief Stricken Art Exhibition
Joseph Palos
Dulce Soledad Ibarra standing with their artwork at the MSJC art gallery

In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month and Undocumented Student Week, Mt. San Jacinto College is showcasing Dulce Soledad Ibarra’s newest collection: Madre Myths. The opening reception to their latest exhibition was held on Sept. 18 at the San Jacinto campus and an Art Talk webinar showcased by artist Dolce Ibarra and art professor John Knuth, was held virtually on Sept. 28.

Photo courtesy of the artist- Dulce Soledad Ibarra

The Art Talk lasted an hour but was filled with years worth of emotion, experience and artistry. During the webinar the artist went over their history of being an artist, their background of laborers, and how they fell into making their pieces go beyond the medium. While their current collection focuses on grief, identity, and displacement, other pieces present themes of generational guilt, class, labor, and injustice.

Joseph Palos

A question I asked during the seminar was “Coming from a working-class family and facing a lot of societal issues, what challenges did you face when kick-starting your career and getting your pieces out there?”  To which Ibarra answered, “Part of it is being pigeon holded [sic] a little bit, but also people undermining you a little bit too in terms of your identity or maybe your experience. For me, I went into a grad program because I was tired of being underpaid. As someone that was younger but still in the arts and in museums, and galleries specifically, I just wanted to move forward. I think that a lot of times because I didn’t fit the narrative, I didn’t look like someone that belonged in a gallery or museum, I think that pushed me to grad school because I thought ‘If I have this degree you can’t say no to me now!’ In that program, I established myself more in what I look forward to and what I looked forward to in community.” Ibarra reflects on their past experiences in the field and what drove them to earn an MFA from the University of Southern California. By answering this question Ibarra revealed the strong desire to create more art that touched on their environment, culture and community. This process happened by starting as a young artist and learning more in their master’s program ultimately ending them up as the successful artist they are now.

Joseph Palos

A piece from 2016 that caught a great deal of attention both during that time and during the Art Talk was a display titled: Manes de Oro (translated to Golden Hands). Dolce explores themes of labor and class through their father’s abandoned labor tools, which they covered in gold paint and displayed.  When discussing their inspiration and purpose behind this exhibit Ibarra explained “My father and I have equally an allergic reaction to gold jewelry and so this kind of reaction led me to kind of think about the metaphor of being allergic to luxury and thinking about working class in that aspect.” Ibarra’s message of class and identity is revealed in this piece, the artist not only coming from a family of laborers but also viewing themselves in such a way. Tired, everlasting, laborers.

Joseph Palos

From the year 2011 to now, Dolce has done many collections that generate powerful messages. They utilized pinatas in their collection: Piñatas y Pregnatas, translating to F*** White Art. The artist created houses out of piñatas and people destroyed them in the name of gentrification, to an art performance demonstrating the struggles of being bilingual including all the frustrations and issues it causes. They make their pieces go further and deeper than what meets the eye, making people feel seen and understood.

Joseph Palos

The current collection is in inspiration of their late aunt and a celebration of her life. Sept. 28, the day of the Art Talk, was the 10th year anniversary of their aunt’s tragic passing. As previously mentioned the pieces in this collection grapple with topics of grief, displacement, and identity by illustrating their aunt’s life, ways the artist remembers her, and how the older the artist gets the more they feel their aunt slip away from them.

The artist grapples with  grief and identity in the collection after their aunt’s tragic passing. The purpose of this exhibition was to remember their aunt and all she was while simultaneously dealing with the fact that memories of their aunt continue to fade as time goes on. “Part of my identity and who I am is within her identity, but this work speaks about grief in the sense that if you lose someone we also are constantly losing pieces of them as the days go by.”

Joseph Palos

Ibarra tells a common story through all the pieces, one where their aunt saved the artist’s beloved rabbit. After immigrating to the United States, a hawk terrorized their chickens and rabbits. After finding one of their rabbits’ decapitated head on the ground their aunt knew what had to be done. The next time the hawk came around the aunt grabbed a rock, and threw it at the flying hawk, killing it then and there. Ibarra talks fondly about this experience because their aunt was 4 feet and 9 inches tall but was able to take down a big flying bird in one shot. This was also a scary time for Ibarra and their aunt because hawks are nationally protected and anyone who kills them is to be charged with a criminal offense. If anyone caught her it would most likely mean deportation. However, that didn’t stop their aunt from protecting Dolce’s beloved pet.

Joseph Palos

Ibarra then explained why the collection is titled Madre Myths. They mention that when their family talks about their late aunt and fond memories they somehow feel alien to Dolce. “Even though I know these stories and they’re told the same they still feel like mythologies to me.” This is due to the fact the aunt’s passing was so long ago and however hard Dolce tries to fight it, the memories are slowly slipping away.

Ibarra created this collection with extreme skill, vulnerability, and raw emotion which is clear to everyone who has the pleasure of viewing it. It celebrates Mexican culture and is taken through a story of grief and identity that many can relate to. It is absolutely worth the visit and such an incredible display.

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Victoria Beattie Phillips

The MSJC San Jacinto Art Gallery will display the artwork until October 19. To find more about this display visit here .


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About the Contributors
Mia Rotell
Mia Rotell, Writer
Hi! My name is Mia Rotell and I am a writer and editor for The Talon! I'm going on my second year at MSJC and my second semester at The Talon. I'm extremely passionate about writing and storytelling, which makes me put my all into my pieces and always on the lookout for a story to cover. I'm currently a Journalism major and plan on getting my bachelor's degree in Journalism and Media Communications. My ultimate goal is to be an editor at a major publication like TIME Magazine or one that highlights people/ events of different cultures and backgrounds. Outside my articles, I like to read, write, do yoga, paint, travel, and collect old books.
joseph palos
joseph palos, Photographer/Writer
Hello, my name is Joseph Palos. I am majoring in journalism, with hopes to one day become a photojournalist. I am passionate about the arts and anything related to them. I consider myself something of a cinephile, and will never turn down a good film! I love photography because I believe that it has the power to expose the world to new things, both wonderful and terrifying. The very idea of photography is capturing life for a moment using light, and then holding that piece of life in your own hands, and that amazes me. I also love traveling and seeing new places, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for me! "It's not enough to have talent, you also have to be Hungarian." - Robert Capa
Victoria Beattie Phillips
Victoria Beattie Phillips, Photographer / Social Media
Hi my name is Victoria. I admire photography and enjoy being behind the lens. Pictures tell a story often times without words so I try to capture a part with every snap. At a young age I enjoyed disposable cameras to take photos of scenery and wildlife. Currently, I still enjoy wildlife photography but looking to expand my skills so different stories can be seen.
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