[ x ] Equis y Yerba Buena: limpia, fija y da esplendor

The current IFA featured artist Mercedes Nuñez is a Cuban visual artist whose artwork encompasses painting, mixed media, collage works-on-paper, photography, and artist books.

The mixed media series she is presenting in this exhibit is a blend of themes and scavenged materials which she calls [ x ] Equis y Yerba Buena: limpia, fija y da esplendor.

She explains the origins of her series (title) this way:

Throughout history, the letter X (pronounced equis in Spanish), has possessed diverse interpretations based on the context with which it is viewed. Symbolically, it can represent:

the known labeling specific locations or destinations such as in maps and places. However, its most potent and mysterious attribute is as symbol for the unknown (the cosmos/universe, identity and ancestral origins), secrecy, danger and the end of ends.

Yerba Buena (good herb/mint), is an honored herb and used in many religious systems, particularly for mental clarity and to bring blessings and protection to the person as she travels her life’s roads…it is also an essential component of the Cuban Mojíto cocktail.

The phrase: limpia, fija y da esplendor (clean, stabilize and give splendour [to language]), became a key point for the series. The phrase is a reference to the Spanish dictionaries under the guidance of Real Academia Española whose primary objective was to “cultivate and stabilize the purity and elegance of the Castilian Spanish Language.” However, what the RAE cultivated throughout the centuries and up to late 20th century, was the use of racist, derogatory words and definitions—not unlike how other languages attempt to preserve some pure origin—circumventing language as a living, moving being.

She says, “Many of the pieces are a call to recognize the endless cycle of deterioration, death, transformation and regeneration…The materials serve as simple devices to highlight the tactical politics behind the banning of books, the attacks on scientific fact, the denial of actual lived history on a national and global level, the hijack of thoughtful debate, and the annexation of people through the use of words to defame, humiliate and bring indignity onto targeted recipients.”

On example is "Bones of the Ancestors," a mixed media assemblage pictured below.

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