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Betsabe Romero’s Cultural Appropriation

By Margaret Failoni

Betsabe Romero has gained international recognition for her skillful and aesthetic ability to decontextualize (remove from context) the 20th and 21st century cultural “icons,” such as the automobile, the airplane, or Chiclets chewing gum, to name but a few. From the Aztec and/or Mayan hieroglyphics to the colonial flower embroidery, her work is distinctive and unique. Painting, sculpture, print making, and photography; all media are completely at her disposal. Refusing to follow the illustrative idioms of many national artists, Romero resists cultural colonialism in exactly the opposite dynamic to her use of cultural appropriation in creating conceptual work of arresting beauty. She masters the cut paper technique to use as floating clouds or to create light paintings on the wall. Different sizes of discarded tires are etched and used as matrixes for exquisite prints or installations on the ground. Larger tires, such as those on trucks or buses, are re-managed and metamorphosed into exciting free standing sculptures. Automobile mirrors or traffic mirrors brought together become mandalas. Brightly colored chewed bubble gum is used to create magnificent bas-reliefs and multi colored Chiclets cover dramatic sculptures of indigenous gods. On many occasions she gently pokes fun at the multiple and gregarious proletarian use of automobile by creating humorous vignettes in or on small model cars, such as picnics on the roof or the car as garden. Many of these small beauties are in the collection of the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.

Cultural Appropriation
By Betsabe Romero
Fri, Aug 4, 6:30–9:30pm
Intersección Gallery
Fábrica La Aurora Local 18A, Calzada de la Aurora

Of course, not all is fun and games. Her very critical installation work for such exhibitions as those in Tijuana’s wall series are a not so subtle rebuke to the immigration crisis poisoning the relations of both countries. Large, magnificent color photographs of the border and the installations are now part of permanent collections in museums on both sides of the border. Her work is often presented to represent Mexican art in embassy-organized exhibitions throughout the world.

With major exhibitions in some of the most prestigious spaces in Mexico, France, Egypt, and the United States, Romero is presently exhibiting in Bangkok, Thailand. We are therefore grateful for her exhibition at the Intersección Gallery in San Miguel de Allende.

Betsabe Romero was born in Mexico City (1963), where she lives and works. Her art is part of important private and public collections worldwide.


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