heARTbeat: Ana Teresa Fernandez & Her Art of Gender Politics

ColumnIn Ana Teresa Fernandez’s world, a woman in a black cocktail dress and heels is expected to do it all.

“As a young girl in Mexico, I learned at an early age about the double standard imposed on women and their sexuality,” explains Ana Teresa Fernandez. “‘Los hombres quieren a una dama en la mesa, y a una puta en la cama’ (“Men want a lady at the table, and a whore in the bed”) is a statement I heard at fifteen, and it still lingers in my ears.”

Through performance-based paintings, Fernandez explores the boundaries and stereotypes of this double-standard and its ramifications on women physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

“For contemporary women, it is often difficult to reconcile the ubiquitous images of virgin and whore in our culture: clean vs. dirty,” Fernandez continues. “It is a fine line that becomes the point of demarcation for women to dance around.”

Such are the boundaries that Fernandez pushes, which may set us adrift when we look at her work. Taking to task sexual, political and class stereotypes, Fernandez confronts us with our own expectations when faced with a sexually attractive woman out of context.

What is that woman in a LBD and heels, while wielding an iron, a mop or swimming, doing? And why? Doesn’t she know it’s folly to mop up the ocean?

Fernandez’s work begs questions that are not so obvious, after all.

Fernandez observes, “No matter how much we try to sculpt our own identities and bodies through repetitive actions, our reflection unto society can always be distorted and broken up through people’s own perceptions.”

Indeed, part of the allure of her work is that Fernandez presses our faces against the glass, which might, after all, change more than our minds.

Check Ana Teresa Fernandez’s YouTube channel for video work that accompanies her painting.

Images via Ana Teresa Fernandez

Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.