Mexican-born painter Ana Teresa Fernandez holds a master’s degree in Fine Arts at San Francisco Art Institute and has exhibited internationally in Mexico and South Africa. Her collection of oil paintings show different situations, mostly in an erotic and very feminine way. “Being an artist forces you to articulate the feelings that run though your body, how you’re connected or disconnected to a place,” said Ana Teresa Fernández. She came in San Diego after a childhood spent in Tampico, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. “You see the best and worst of both sides when you have the ability to cross constantly.”
In a series of large canvasses, Fernandez has depicted elegant women performing menial tasks – ironing, vacuuming, sweeping – against the border fence by the Pacific Ocean. The work comments not only on the way Mexicans are often viewed in the United States, but also on women’s dual roles in Mexican society – as sexual objects and domestic laborers, she said. “The notion of trying to mop the beach, sweep the sand, it’s like Sisyphus,” she said, referring to the king in Greek mythology who is cursed for eternity to push a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll down again. “People who may have skills and trades come here and end up in this menial work, cleaning hotel rooms, washing dishes. But there’s strength, persistence, to get up every day and clean up after someone else. I try to humanize it a little bit.”
“What does it mean to be clean in today’s society? Using water as a metaphor for purity, and playing an ironic dirty twist for ”wetback”, these performances dive into history’s religious transformation from paganism; water as a symbol for fertility and strength, then into Catholicism; washing away our guilt, deconstructing a watered down identity as a bi-cultural immigrant. 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. The choices I’ve made, to be an artist, to be taken seriously as a woman, never would have happened in Mexico,” said Fernandez.