The hybridity of Western and Latin American identity in the work of Crystal Latimer

Crystal Latimer is a multi-disciplinary artist primarily working in the two-dimensional mediums of painting, drawing & collage, but has also extended her recent practice to include ceramic tile. Crystal’s academic studies have been based out of Western Pennsylvania, obtaining her BFA from Slippery Rock University in 2010, an MA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) in 2013, and wrapping it up with her MFA from IUP in Spring 2016.

Crystal’s work has been published in Fresh Paint Magazine and Ruminate Magazines and featured on Dear Pittsburgh. Regionally, her work has been shown at Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery, UnSmoke Systems, and 937 Gallery, and Gallery 4 in Pittsburgh, PA. Her international experience includes a group show in Hong Kong, China, as well as an Artist Residency at the Joaquín Chaverri Fábrica de Carretas in Sarchí, Costa Rica, both in the year 2014. Crystal was selected for an Emerging Artist Award at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Arts Festival in 2016, where she was also presented with a Juror’s Choice Award. Currently, Crystal’s work is on display at the Pittsburgh International Airport until February 2017.

I stood at a Wal-Mart in Escazú, Costa Rica, and felt like I was experiencing that moment in late autumn when you realize that all the fiery reds and oranges had faded and fallen to the ground. My life had been a staccato of visits to my mother’s native Costa Rica, and I felt, in that moment, that I was experiencing the dilution of a vibrant culture.

My paintings explore the hybridity of Western and Latin American identity, and critiques the Western influence over marginalized society. Like painted poetry, every choice of color, pattern, and stroke is laden with metaphorical intention. The reference of Latin American folk arts conceptually ground the work in Latino culture; however, entwined in these traditions are fragments of silhouetted historical painting, white pigment, gold & silver gilding, graffiti tags, and corporate logos. As part of my metaphorical language, these referents allude to the colonization of Latin America, and its continual role as “colony” to Western society. Through the tools of paint and brush, my paintings provide a succinct historical background that portrays the ubiquity of Westernization in Latin America, investigates the ongoing acculturation process within the region, and critiques the sustainability of marginalized culture within a modernizing and westernizing world. 

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