Artist Dalila Paola Mendez Brings Feminism, Queerness and Mother Nature to Life in New Works

By: Giani Angel Chavez
Editor: J. Cuevas

In her formative years Dalila Paola Mendez found herself in the library drawing, looking at different forms of inspiration that she saw in books of animals and indigenous cultures. She took interest in photography and painting from classes taught at Barnsdall Art Park. These inspirations would come to play a critical role in her work and in her progression into the powerful-queer-feminist artist she is today. Her art has allowed her to rise out of the darkness and into the prominence of light, this idea taking full form in her piece on show at our Annual Print Fair.

Growing up in a traditional Catholic immigrant family, Mendez had to silence her queer identity; this on top of the unfair treatment faced being a woman of color. She found herself unable to express her identity to the world and found solace in art. She created realities more beautiful than her own, always including “the other”; groups of people left out of the outdated traditional narrative. She portrays the importance of women, indigenous cultures, and mother earth and her resources.

Mendez has been involved with Self-Help Graphics & Art (SHG) since high school, where she had the first showcase of her work. SHG has continued to help her move forward artistically with support from other artists and the expanding of her knowledge in silkscreen printing. Her work on showcase at our Annual Print Fair is titled “Corazon del Agua”, which brings into full view her ideas of feminism, queerness, and mother nature.

Before the lotus flower takes its true form, it hides in the mud, waiting to bloom, a parallel to her queer identity; living in silence and fear for part of her life and then realizing the importance of queer visibility in art and media: “For me it’s like [on being queer] the beautiful flower, once we can share and be our queer selves we can share our true authentic self with the world and ourselves.”  The lotus flower sits in front of the torso of a female figure, paying homage to her reverence to the women in her life that have made her who she is today. The female torso sits in the water; something needed to sustain life, just like all the parts of Mendez’ identity needed to keep living her truth.

Dalila Paola Mendez is a force of powerful latinx queer-femininity who makes it known within her art and in her presence, something needed in the current political climate of the world. She hopes that the youth and others interested in art seek out a community of support, to create visibility for themselves and their work, as she believes their voices need to be heard. Come witness Mendez’ and other artists’ powerful work Saturday June 23rd at Self-Help Graphics & Art.

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Giani Chavez is a Self Help Graphics & Art Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern from Grinnell College.