Chicana/Chicano Codice, Celeste Contreras Codice, Chicana Codex, Codice Tlacuilo, Codice Tlacuila
Wind you are the skeleton of the dance
Sun you are the ribbon on life
Moon you light my creativity
Earth you balance and ground my spirit
Water you are the blood of the Ceremony
An Exploration of Relearning to Read Image:
2 years ago, I sat down with a Mexica (Aztec) Codice facsimile at UW-Milwaukee’s Special Collections Library(Also the reason I chose grad skool at UWM) I looked through one accordion style book. Full color pages, weighing approximately 5 lbs. I was sweating, I was emotional. I was looking at the stars trying to make sense of the shapes, symbols and logographic language of the Nahuatl. After maybe 3 hours of looking through it. I went home, exhausted, I felt like I had been beat up.
I wept. I wept because the pain was real. I cried because I did NOT know what they were saying. I did NOT understand. I did NOT sit down with that book and was like, Oh yes, of course, I totally get this. I was totally devastated. Especially because I am an artist.
Now having and using the language I use (image), I come from a place of using image as words, my language is line, design, my language is art. But when it came to the books of my ancestors, I wept because even though they were using image as language and phonetics, I was lost. I could NOT read it. So as the year went on, my research became deeper and deeper and I started writing their language, I started copying their alphabets, I started to UNDERSTAND. Im still obviously learning this language. But for the first time in 2 years, I can now look at these magnificent, detailed, profound codices and start to see the story, I start to see our history, I am starting to read it. I have many more decades of research I need to fully understand more, but I know this is just the beginning of discovering what they were trying to teach us, remind us, and what they recorded in their codices were first hand-eye witnessed accounts from the Indigenous People of a land we now call Mexico.
Here are some of my drawings of the books. But Im telling a new story. I am fully influenced by the 16th Century Indigenous Tlahcuilo who wrote these codices and their style of drawing which is their own unique approach to portraying their communities. Within these drawings you can still see my own personal style and that will continue to grow and evolve as I continue to study from 16th Century Indigenous Artists and bookmakers known as Tlahcuilo.
Catching my breath from an intense semester, I’ll be finishing up projects next week(to those who are waiting patiently) I’ll also be spending a couple of weeks reflecting on all I have learned in the past 5 months of research + experimenting. But I am here to flower, we all are and for being one of the shittiest years we have survived through there are so many people who truly made this year one of my most successful as far as my art career goes. To those who gave me work:Thank you from all my heart, you helped me flourish in a skill I’ve been given, beyond grateful. To my mentors: your patience and discipline towards me helped me grow and push past many obstacles I was facing in my art work. Y’all helped push me to new areas. To my family: I can’t thank you each enough for giving me much needed space, amazing fresh meals, to providing clean clothes to soothing my mind and wiping my tears. To the universe: Thank you for a much needed pause, we’ve been cruel to Pachamama, Mother Earth and she is speaking loudly back at us. Thanks for keeping us balanced on an unbalanced world. To those who don’t even know me that well or we’re just Facebook friends: all of your posts this year, the stories,the joys, the sorrows, the fotos, the LOVE, thank you for reminding me there are awesome and beautiful and mindful people all around us. I love each one of yous. Salud to a new decade and thanks for this past one. TlazocamatiGraciasThank You ˙ǝuo ʇsɐd sıɥʇ ɹoɟ sʞuɐɥʇ puɐ ǝpɐɔǝp ʍǝu ɐ oʇ pnlɐS ˙snoʎ ɟo ǝuo ɥɔɐǝ ǝʌol I ˙sn punoɹɐ llɐ ǝldoǝd lnɟpuıɯ puɐ lnɟıʇnɐǝq puɐ ǝɯosǝʍɐ ǝɹɐ ǝɹǝɥʇ ǝɯ ɓuıpuıɯǝɹ ɹoɟ noʎ ʞuɐɥʇ ‘ƎΛO˥ ǝɥʇ ‘soʇoɟ ǝɥʇ ‘sʍoɹɹos ǝɥʇ ‘sʎoɾ ǝɥʇ’sǝıɹoʇs ǝɥʇ ‘ɹɐǝʎ sıɥʇ sʇsod ɹnoʎ ɟo llɐ :spuǝıɹɟ ʞooqǝɔɐℲ ʇsnɾ ǝɹ,ǝʍ ɹo llǝʍ ʇɐɥʇ ǝɯ ʍouʞ uǝʌǝ ʇ,uop oɥʍ ǝsoɥʇ o⊥ ˙plɹoʍ pǝɔuɐlɐqun uɐ uo pǝɔuɐlɐq sn ɓuıdǝǝʞ ɹoɟ sʞuɐɥ⊥ ˙sn ʇɐ ʞɔɐq ʎlpnol ɓuıʞɐǝds sı ǝɥs puɐ ɥʇɹɐƎ ɹǝɥʇoW ‘ɐɯɐɯɐɥɔɐԀ oʇ lǝnɹɔ uǝǝq ǝʌ,ǝʍ ‘ǝsnɐd pǝpǝǝu ɥɔnɯ ɐ ɹoɟ noʎ ʞuɐɥ⊥ :ǝsɹǝʌıun ǝɥʇ o⊥ ˙sɹɐǝʇ ʎɯ ɓuıdıʍ puɐ puıɯ ʎɯ ɓuıɥʇoos oʇ sǝɥʇolɔ uɐǝlɔ ɓuıpıʌoɹd oʇ ‘slɐǝɯ ɥsǝɹɟ ɓuızɐɯɐ ‘ǝɔɐds pǝpǝǝu ɥɔnɯ ǝɯ ɓuıʌıɓ ɹoɟ ɥɓnouǝ ɥɔɐǝ noʎ ʞuɐɥʇ ʇ,uɐɔ I :ʎlıɯɐɟ ʎɯ o⊥ ˙sɐǝɹɐ ʍǝu oʇ ǝɯ ɥsnd pǝdlǝɥ llɐ,⅄ ˙ʞɹoʍ ʇɹɐ ʎɯ uı ɓuıɔɐɟ sɐʍ I sǝlɔɐʇsqo ʎuɐɯ ʇsɐd ɥsnd puɐ ʍoɹɓ ǝɯ pǝdlǝɥ ǝɯ spɹɐʍoʇ ǝuıldıɔsıp puɐ ǝɔuǝıʇɐd ɹnoʎ :sɹoʇuǝɯ ʎɯ o⊥ ˙lnɟǝʇɐɹɓ puoʎǝq ‘uǝʌıɓ uǝǝq ǝʌ,I llıʞs ɐ uı ɥsıɹnolɟ ǝɯ pǝdlǝɥ noʎ ‘ʇɹɐǝɥ ʎɯ llɐ ɯoɹɟ noʎ ʞuɐɥ⊥:ʞɹoʍ ǝɯ ǝʌɐɓ oɥʍ ǝsoɥʇ o⊥ ˙sǝoɓ ɹǝǝɹɐɔ ʇɹɐ ʎɯ sɐ ɹɐɟ sɐ lnɟssǝɔɔns ʇsoɯ ʎɯ ɟo ǝuo ɹɐǝʎ sıɥʇ ǝpɐɯ ʎlnɹʇ oɥʍ ǝldoǝd ʎuɐɯ os ǝɹɐ ǝɹǝɥʇ ɥɓnoɹɥʇ pǝʌıʌɹns ǝʌɐɥ ǝʍ sɹɐǝʎ ʇsǝıʇʇıɥs ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝuo ɓuıǝq ɹoɟ puɐ ǝɹɐ llɐ ǝʍ ‘ɹǝʍolɟ oʇ ǝɹǝɥ ɯɐ I ʇnᙠ ˙ɓuıʇuǝɯıɹǝdxǝ + ɥɔɹɐǝsǝɹ ɟo sɥʇuoɯ ގ ʇsɐd ǝɥʇ uı pǝuɹɐǝl ǝʌɐɥ I llɐ uo ɓuıʇɔǝlɟǝɹ sʞǝǝʍ ɟo ǝldnoɔ ɐ ɓuıpuǝds ǝq oslɐ ll,I (ʎlʇuǝıʇɐd ɓuıʇıɐʍ ǝɹɐ oɥʍ ǝsoɥʇ oʇ)ʞǝǝʍ ʇxǝu sʇɔǝɾoɹd dn ɓuıɥsıuıɟ ǝq ll,I ‘ɹǝʇsǝɯǝs ǝsuǝʇuı uɐ ɯoɹɟ ɥʇɐǝɹq ʎɯ ɓuıɥɔʇɐƆ