Mayte Escobar’s Detras De Las Huellas (Behind the Footprints) results from living in two worlds. Her parents came to the United States from Mexico in the 1980’s. Growing up in Santa Ana, her family frequently visited relatives in Mexico. She recalls how the children there would call her names, even telling her to “go home, you are not from here”. When in California, she stayed close to a group of other first generation Mexican Americans that provided a secure social construct. When Escobar left on her own journey to further her education this security was threatened, and she began to explore her identity. Her MFA exhibition invites viewers to visit this world entre, or in-between, perhaps seeing themselves on the way.
Two videos play simultaneously on one wall, each showing only feet walking a path, one in worn boots, and the other barefoot. The barefoot walker recites the Mexican State names, while the booted one recites the American State names. Viewers experience the looping effect that so poignantly reenacts the journey Escobar’s parents and countless others took to America. The footprints left behind, mingling with the rocks and tire tracks, symbolize the determination and strength of those that made this trek, and continue to struggle for acceptance.
On the opposite wall are large video stills of the artist, first in a sparkling red, white, and blue dress reminiscent of a Fourth of July parade, then transitioning to traditional Mexican dress. Escobar purposely blurred the photos, hoping to show that her personal identity journey can represent something more universal – the desire to be a part of something.
Escobar intends to continue making work that explores dual identity, traditional and modern ideas, and other social and political issues concerning the border.
– Kathy Miller Stewart