María is a resident artist at CECA. María loves painting, photography, and dance. She is a creative spirit who brings joy to those around her. María often explores issues of identity, gender, and culture in her work often taking on the persona of others in photographed performances. Like a chameleon she subjects herself to quick changes in appearance or character to truly embody who or what she is trying to communicate to an audience. However, María, without trying, somehow intertwines herself, her personal story and struggles, into these characters, which makes them truly authentic representations of artists like Frida Kahlo or Posada’s Catrina.
Cultural Education Center for the Arts (CECA) in Hawthorne, California, opened June 18, 2007. CECA is designed to provide community inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities. CECA artists emphasize the strength and power of individual creative expression all while providing a strong contribution to the rich cultural diversity of the South Bay area.
What is an “identity”, and what advice can you give someone who is discovering their identity?
Identity is comprised of many parts. Some is what you think of yourself, what makes you “you” and for María, her identity, how she views herself is deeply embedded in her family and culture. How the ones she loves most or influential figures in her life view her has defined what means to be María is. Her advice to those struggling with issues of identity is to find a role model, a mentor to guide you in the process of letting go of self-consciousness, anxiety, or fear of accepting who you are and who you are becoming. María underwent a period of feeling self-consciousness about communicating with others due to her disability but a teacher encouraged her and supported her as she learned to communicate verbally.
When has your identity been compromised, and what advice can you give someone whose identity is being challenged?
María said she has not experienced feeling like her identity has been compromised but encourages someone who feels like they are being forced to be who they are not to find help from others.
What actions and/or tools do you use to remind yourself about the value of your unique identity? How can someone be proud of who they are?
Family for María has and is what and who remind her of her amazing talents and value. Positive thinking starts with you!