Phd student Sheila Scoville, who entered the FSU Art History graduate program this fall, presented her paper “Colonizing Taste: A Mesoamerican Staple in Casta and Contemporary Art” on Tuesday, August 25 in the virtual conference Materializing Race: An Unconference on Objects and Identity in #VastEarlyAmerica. Sheila presented in the “Personhood and Possession” panel.
In her paper, Sheila compares two representations that conflate the tortilla with Amerindians: a casta portrait, Indios Otomies que van a la feria (ca. 1725), by the Mexican painter Juan Rodríguez Juárez, and Indigurrito (1992), a performance by the contemporary artist Nao Bustamante. In colonial Mexico, casta painters encoded the materiality of the body, along with its comportment and nourishment, to construct socio-racial categories. Similar to casta artists who catered to an elite audience, Bustamante’s performance feeds the colonialist gaze, but whereas the former upheld a race-based hierarchy, she contests the mestiza identity that white cultural institutions expect her to perform. Using a Cali-Mex burrito, Bustamante embodies colonial stereotypes in a mockery of decolonial ritual.