Perez helps inaugurate Latina/o Stu at Penn State

Penn State – Laura Pérez kicked off the first event in the Latina/o Studies Initiative yesterday with a speech on Chicana and feminist art as part of the “Engaging Latina/o America” lecture series.

This series is intended to mark the inauguration of the new Latina/o studies program, Roselyn Costantino, professor of Spanish, women’s studies and Latina/o studies, said.

Pérez’s lecture focused on feminist literary, visual and performance art. This issue is the basis of her upcoming book, Chicana Art: Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities.

“I want to share a selection of images taken from the book I’ve been working on for 10 years,” Pérez said. “It focuses on over 40 artists produced between 1985 and 2000 in various types of visual media.”

Pérez talked about the stereotypes of women featured in Chicana art and said Chicana art offers “foreign knowledges of ethical confusion.”

“The work invoked in this book knowingly focuses on stereotypes between nonwestern cultures, spirituality and women,” she said.

She added that she began with looking for feminist-centered justice, but spirituality emerged and the book became a larger project because of it.

“The pictures in the book are fun and powerful and blow all kinds of stereotypes,” she said. “Women must speak up and break stereotypes.”

She wrote the book to bring attention to Chicana art.

“My readings are one example of the readings that can and should be made,” she said.

Pérez ended the lecture with a slideshow of photos reinforcing the points made in her lecture.

The images reflected the stereotypes that women are perceived as “eye candy” and question ideas of gender, beauty and fashion, Pérez told the audience.

LaNae Banks (senior-political science) said she thought Pérez did a good job conveying the ideas of Chicana art.

“I never really thought of it as a separate entity, and I just wanted to take it all in,” she said.

Pérez is an associate professor in the department of ethnic studies at the University of California-Berkeley. She is affiliated with Berkeley’s departments of women’s studies and the graduate group in theater, dance and performance.

–from the Penn State Collegian

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