About the work:
Casa de Casta
Mixed Media Series. (2016 – 2017)
I began Casa de Casta because of my desire to know more about my own blood, and the histories & political systems that have defined what my blood means.
A few years ago, I learned about a lineage of painting called Casta that belongs to an 18th-century Spanish-colonial tradition. Casta paintings were often produced in 16-panel collections created to catalog and display Spanish classifications of racial mixture in Spanish-colonized lands – that is, various mixed-raced couplings within the Spanish-colonial social order – and codify this system of classifications into distinct categories (ex. mestizo, mulatto, cholo, etc.) that ultimately evidenced, legitimized, and upheld racial supremacy and dominance of “pure-blood” Spanish colonizers in the Américas. Casta paintings narrativized colonizers ideas about race through images that, on the surface, innocuously represent family, their offspring, and scenes of day-to-day life, but also carried ideas of human “breeding,” much in the way humans think about domesticated animals and chattel.
After learning about Casta, my obsession became, how would I be classified under this violent system of classification?
My current work uses paint-chips: objects that contain both commercial and domestic resonances. As a consumer, when you pick up a paint-chip at the store you think about what is desirable for your home, and how color might transform the spaces that you live in day-to-day:
Can I live with this? Does this go in my home?
Do I want to surround myself with this color?
To further allure the consumer, companies use naming (ex. “Nonchalant White,” “Well-Bred
Brown”) and classification, or collections (ex. “Colonial Revival”), to brand their colors. These creative acts of naming and class(ify)ing are created as a way to sell you, the consumer, not only a color, but also a story about how this shade will transform your domestic environment.
Casa de Casta uses paint-chips, collected from Sherwin-Williams, whose names echo deeply entrenched, racist ideas about color. Through this project, I am looking at the politics of color and desirability within home aesthetics, particularly through a selection process based on the question, what colors do we wish live with?