Homeland

 

By Alicia Smith

 

 

“I am overwhelmed by the feeling of having been cast from the womb. Through my earth/body sculptures I become one with the earth and I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body.” - Ana Mendieta


“Some of us would require the sovereignty of our bodies, because the question of land is not only a thorny issue but it’s one in which certain kinds of bodies in history, certain kinds of persons, are immediately alienated from the land.” - Rinaldo Walcott


“For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live.” - Theodor Adorno

 

 

I.

 

I’m always almost home. Some days more almost than others. Home is an aching target that seems to recede just as I approach it. Almost is resting against a string between where I’ve been and where I can finally set them down. Them is all of them. You know who they are. They are the ones who ached too. Maybe we all just have to bend back first.

 

 

II.

 

When my ancestors left Aztlan, the place of Herons, they left home. Home is where god lives. When they left, they had to take god’s bones with them. The ones who carried these bones, the Teomamas, carried the bones like mothers carry babies, like archers carry quivers, slung on their back. When they reached the basin of Mexico, god told them they would send a sign. The sign was a golden eagle, eating a snake on a nopal cactus. The Teomamas cried, after two hundred long years, they would make a new Aztlan here. Here where the sky and the earth meet. Tenochtitlan, the place of prickly pears growing among the rocks.

 

 

III.

 

“-tlan" is used in Nahuatl as a suffix for "place of". It comes from the Nahuatl word "Tlantli" which means tooth. My teeth are the rocks of my homeland. My hair the first tendril of a root. My skin some wholly new place I belong to. I carry my goddess like a mother. I carry her like an archer. Resting against a string. Once I saw the sign, a union of opposites, I cried, bent back and released.

About The Artist

 

Alicia Smith is a Xicana artist and activist. She received her BFA in Fine arts with an emphasis in Contemporary Sculpture and Printmaking from the University of Oklahoma and is currently finishing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts. Her work uses the abject and sublime to investigate certain ideas. She is interested in the tension between greed and reverence and its impact on the environment, as well as our relationship to the female body. Through these processes, she dissolves romanticized tropes that deny indigenous women their complexity, while at the same time demonstrating their beauty and strength. Being of mixed race heritage her relationship to the land and her body is complicated and something she unpacks through her work with the guidance of her ancestors.

 

Alicia explains, "With Aztec history and my ancestor' s guidance, my work speaks about reclaiming your body as your genealogy and home. By demonstrating the cosmic kinship between human, and the more than human; my body encompasses the complex and incomprehensible vastness of the whole."

  

Smith can be reached at asmith59@sva.edu.