It takes faith to grow, you must be willing to lose a seed to gain a plant.
In 2020, I began this piece. It was to be a living textile; I wanted to weave grass as it grew. I wanted to explore weaving in relation to Mexico by using native grasses and fibres, as well as traditional techniques. By weaving the living grass, I wanted to explore how we can form identities out of living memories.
Then the grass died.
In 2021, I began to weave again, my faith not quite waivered on the grass. The piece became about trying to hold on to something that felt lost. Every day, I sit in the garden and I weave: I pull the brittle dry grass back and run my twine through it, hoping not to break off any more strands. I can feel the decay resisting me, it is unsettled by my acts, it does not wish to stand straight anymore. The roots themselves decaying in the soil. But I’m not giving up. I know it’s not what I thought it would be, but the more I weave, weft after weft, the more it becomes something new. The grass is my memory, held together with twine just trying to make sense of its place, its identity. It’s still not finished, but it feels less lost, more certain of itself. I viewed memories as living, still changing, but perhaps they change because they are decaying.
In the spring I might plant new grass.
Francisco Berlanga is a contemporary artist who studied at Simon Fraser University. He obtained his BFA in Visual Arts with a minor in Interactive Arts and Technology. His practice is based on questioning identity, particularly his connection with his own Mexican culture and how one can inhabit a culture while being partially absent from it. He engages in discourse with his own identity through the creation of traditional Mexican “manualidades” or crafts, his work makes connections between traditional Mexican aesthetics and contemporary visual language. His practice engages with concepts of inaccessibility and the role memory and language can play when someone is distanced from their own culture. He attempts to bridge the gaps between his personal and cultural identities by forcing connections between them and trying to understand the limitations that these identities impose upon each other. Francisco was also a founding member of Withintensions, a monthly Vancouver-based artists magazine started in 2020, he is currently artistic director for the magazine. Publication has become an integral part of his practice in both his own writing and providing an accessible space for others. His goal through the publication is to cultivate a platform for art theory that engages local arts communities.