The Arts Are My Livelihood
I find that life is best when there is a way I can express myself without words. It was so satisfying when I discovered that paint, form and content were all I needed to share the story of a life lived as a Chicana raised in Papillion, Nebraska.
Being the second oldest of 10 children, my early influences were formed by my Mother, who seemed to be able to create a family household through being frugal and using tools and materials. Watching her cut, arrange, mold, and design fabric, flowers, wood, paper, flour, grains, and meats were daily lessons of expression that became a major influence in my art.
The “creative me” sprung from having to be self-sufficient. Throughout my student career, I would design and make my own paper toys, dolls, dioramas, and puppets, and write and illustrate books. Art to me was the path used to help and nurture the development of friendships with fellow students and teachers.
While at the College of St. Mary’s, I was drawn to the Chicano movement because of the use of art and culture as an expression of self-identity. In preparation for my senior art exhibit, I traveled to Mexico City. It was there that I discovered the role played by public murals and sculptures. I visited galleries, museums, and open air markets and experienced the personal relationship art had with its people.. My life and my art were changed forever.
After graduating, I became the Chicano Awareness Center‘s first art instructor. I delved into books on Mexican arts and crafts, history, music, festivals, theater, folk tales, legends, myths, and storytelling.
My art involves research into symbolism, indigenous tradition and the use of materials and methods which I then interpret into contemporary forms of expressions. The art of papel picado (Mexican Paper Cutting) is just one of the examples of art I continue to pursue. I also create sculptures with papier-mâché, wire and found objects to form nichos (decorative boxes). I am currently studying Mexican indigenous textiles and the women’s stories involved in these creations.
Linda M. Garcia, a 1971 College of St. Mary graduate and a retired Children’s Librarian, is an artist, instructor, and storyteller of Latino arts and culture. Linda is with the Nebraska Arts Council’s Artists in Schools and Communities roster; Nebraska Story Arts Board; Nebraska Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau; City of Omaha Public Art Commissioner; and occasional instructor and docent with the Joslyn Art Museum. Linda and her husband, Jose, have an extensive collection of Mexican folk arts and literature; are co-founders of the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands; and are coordinators for the 2013 Día de los Muertos exhibit.