An Exploration of Relearning to Read Image

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.

back cover of a book I’m self publishing on The Florentine Codex