Senior art and psychology double major Osiris Ordaz has dedicated the last four years of her time at Northwestern to creating and perfecting her senior art exhibit, entitled “Unbalanced.” As of Monday, April 9, the result of Ordaz’s many late nights and early mornings is up for viewing in the Te Paske Gallery.
When asked how she got her start in the art world, Ordaz said it was a love affair that began at a young age. She started off making little crafts or working with Play-Doh, and soon after, she was painting as well.
Many years later, Ordaz’s finger-painting days have led to an entire gallery full of artwork that expresses who she is, where she has been and where she hopes to go. Ordaz wanted to use her artwork as a way to explore the teeter-totter she rides every day between her Mexican culture and her American culture.
“I’ve always been too American for my Mexican friends and too Mexican for my American friends,” Ordaz said. “I know way more food words in Spanish than in English, and I know way more medical terms in English than in Spanish. Sometimes when I’m angry, I’ll be talking in English and Spanish will come out. So it’s taken me a long time to realize I’m both Mexican and American, but one side often outshines the other, and that’s okay.”
Ordaz spent a good amount of time working on the main feature piece in her show – a coffee table dinner spread featuring ceramic plates and bowls graced by ceramic Mexican sweet breads. Each sweet bread represents a different member of Ordaz’s family, as each bread was crafted with each member’s favorite sweet bread in mind.
“This piece was inspired by the late light suppers called “Cena” my family would share around our coffee table,” Ordaz said.
In addition to this tribute to her favorite family meals, Ordaz’s show features an entire wall of tiny hand-painted, kiln-fired ceramics – what Osiris terms “Mexi Minis.” These include painted ceramic models of her favorite “Loteria” cards, and prints of each of her family member’s portraits against hand-painted patterned backgrounds, as well as a painting of Lady Liberty wearing a Mexican poncho and hoisting a chili pepper.
“I named her ‘Doña Liberty,’” Ordaz said of her take on the famous New York landmark. “In Spanish, ‘doña’ signifies respect, and I think this image of an American icon proudly participating in Mexican culture is a beautiful image of hope for what this country could be.”
Thinking about the privilege she has to share this powerful piece and others like it, Ordaz marvels at what a unique opportunity it is to be able to have an entire gallery to herself to showcase her artwork – to be treated as a real artist.
“Other colleges don’t give opportunities for their students to have a solo show, so it’s a huge honor for me,” Ordaz said.
A closing reception will be held in Ordaz’s honor at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 13 in the Te Paske Gallery and will include a presentation from the artist, receptions and a chance to get one last glimpse of the beautiful melding of cultures that is “Unbalanced.”