“A Tablecloth as Gratitude,” by Isabel Rodriguez

Isabel Rodriguez is a Chicana artist currently based in Miami, FL. Originally born in Texas, but having lived across many states and countries including Vermont, New York City, Mexico, and Cuba, her work is heavily inspired by the beauty around her. Primarily creating using photography and occasionally performance art, her work consists of themes of identity, reflection, and connection. Isabel was first introduced to photography in the darkroom and fell in love with the magic that is the process of shooting film, developing and printing in the darkroom. Originally a dancer, she’s found a love for this two dimensional art form of photography that much like dance, has a three dimensional type of process filled with movement and steps to truly make a vision come to life in the form of an image.

A Brief Timeline of Gratitude 

Working closely with photographer Rachel Portesi as she created her “Homage to Bourgeois” wet plates inspired me to reflect on one of my favorite series by Ana Mendieta. Forever inspired by her “Silueta Series” I chose to honor Mendieta’s work by using photoshop to manipulate digital self portrait images of my body onto medium format color film photographs that once layered together, form a slightly surreal and almost secretive two dimensional experience. With each background landscape image being very personal to me, playing around with choosing which of those background images I put my body image onto became a surprisingly powerful workflow to create the final body of work. Created during a time in my life that felt deeply hopeless, making this body of work galvanized a new sense of purpose, home, and gratitude into my body and mind. 

Creating these images helped me better understand my relationship to what the idea of home means to me, which after some time eventually prompted me to create my video performance art piece titled, “A Tablecloth as Gratitude”. This video piece represents my understanding that my home is wherever I am, wherever my body is. I am on top of a dining table wearing a white skirt that represents a tablecloth. I perform becoming the tablecloth to show that no matter where I am in the world, who I share experiences with, who I give pieces of myself to, who takes pieces of me with them, whatever life becomes, I know I will always be my own home. I will forever be grateful for that. 

I chose to show these three photographs next to my video performance to display this brief timeline of inspiration that led me to express this new formed sense of home and gratitude. 

Performance Video Statement: 

A video performance of gratitude. A thank you to all parts of me. Who’s tablecloth? Mine. Mine and whoever I share it with. A reminder that I exist for me, for my ancestors, for the beauty that is everything and nothing, for love. I am grateful.

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