Testifying about Latina art

From left, Ella Diaz, Sarah Proo, Ashley Elizondo, Carmen Martínez, Stephanie Martinez, Elizabeth Ferrie, Kerry Close, Eamari Bell and Gabriela Leon. Not pictured: Phoebe Houston.

Nine students enrolled in the fall 2013 “Telling to Live: Critical Examinations of Testimonio” course are testing the boundaries of the Latino literary form. Each student contributed an essay using elements of the testimonio genre to analyze a piece in the Museo Eduardo Carrillo’s exhibit of Latina artist Lorraine García-Nakata.

A testimonio presents an individual’s story as representative of a larger whole. Testimonios originated in Latin America and have become integral to the U.S. Latino literary canon.

“I designed the course to engage both literary testimonios and alternative forms appearing in visual and performance art, in order to explain, and also test, the boundaries of this essential literary genre,” writes Ella Diaz, assistant professor of English and Latino studies. Diaz also wrote an essay accompanying the exhibit.

The students find the universal in the particular in García-Nakata’s art; as Phoebe Houston writes in her essay, the artwork “resonates with the most famous definition of testimonio – that it is an individual story which represents the ‘reality of a whole people.’”

- Linda B. Glaser