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SNEAK PREVIEW of "Mi Casa Es Su Casa"

a second phase of my interactive website
"Glass Houses: A View of American Assimilation
from a Mexican-American Perspective"

glass houses by Jacalyn Lopez Garcia


"Mi Casa Es Su Casa", is scheduled to premiere in 2021 and will host a collection of newer artwork, photographs, videos and other tales of the past and present. Stories will emphasize the "home improvements" that have been made during the past 20 years.

Note: I use the term "home improvements" metaphorically to explore ideas based on the impact that family, marriage and society play in shaping life's outcomes.

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Today's SNEAK PREVIEW reveals the backstory of my interactive self-portrait that presently hangs on the wall of my artist studio. As a transmedia visual storyteller I use QR code technology to expand the visual story beyond the first impression of an art piece. My intention is to push through the boundaries of museum walls. By integrating traditional and non-traditional artistic practices I am able to expose how an entire story simply cannot be deciphered on a gallery wall. Art patrons must interact with the portrait to access the story by using a QR code scanner or visiting the website's URL.





"Interactive Portrait of the Artist"

Medium: Digital drawing with an embedded QR code
Size: 12" x 12" digital print on aluminum panel

Price: $500



According to my father, (Henry Lee Lopez), my name was given to me by my mother (Sara Quiroz Laborin). “Your mother did not want you to have a traditional 'Mexican' name and it is spelled this way because she did not know how to spell." My father was not always this ornery and if he thought he was insulting my mother, he was mistaken.

Bearing no shame my mother (who had 15 siblings) replied, “That’s right.  I only finished the 3rd grade because I had to stay home and work so that my younger brothers and sisters that were light-skinned could go to the 'American' school." My mother who was raised in a small Mormon community that was settled by Americans in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, had never shared something about her past which negatively reflected how she had been mistreated as a "dark-skinned" Mexican. When confronted on this subject she said it was because she did not want me to suffer her pain.

I do not recall my age, but our conversation has stayed embedded in my brain and will never be forgotten.


This is recent photo of me captured by my husband
Carlos Garcia during the COVID-19 quarantine.



I attribute the shaping of my identity to my parents who first defined me as a "Mexican" and who later taught me to say "American" whenever we crossed the U.S. border.   I recall that I was only 5 years old and I learned quickly that it was very important to answer the question properly whenever I was asked my citizenship.  

Little children don't always understand why they are told to do certain things. They just do it because if they don't there could be consequences.

Crossing the border always made me nervious and I came to hate the day my world was turned upside down after an angry “white” neighbor reported that my mother was living here illegally and was immediately deported. The pain of being separated from my mother at age 7 resulted in deep emotional scars. Yet, in a very profound way, these scars and deeply rooted memories have become the impetus that propels me to find innovative ways to repurpose my mother's personal and intimate stories.

family photo

Titled: Life in the 50s Collection Photo
Medium: Screen image from Glass Houses Website
Date: Resuse of family photo from 1950s

The Developmental Stages

While studying Studio Art as an undergrad I discovered that diverse artistic practices serve as catalysts of memory that can be used to conjure up a variety of social and cultural contexts. I was introduced to the art of writing autobiographical narratives, but was never told about the impact digging up and gathering personal histories could create on one's psyche. Nevertheless, the process forced me to look inward at my own cultural base and helped me make new discoveries about what has shaped my identity and these influences became some of my reasons for making art.


self portrait

Title: The Beatles & Me
Medium: Silver Gelatin Print
Date: 1997


Seriously, Who Am I ?

If I did not share the critical role American colonialism played in shaping my identity, this story would not be complete. This stage of my life began to take shape during my pre-teen years when I discovered I was not just "Mexican", I was "Mexican-American." A reality that till this day has inspired me to embrace my bi-culturalism.

By the time I reached 18 years of age my identity became quickly scrambled around with names such as “Caucasian”, “White”, or “Other.” The more my sense of being was challenged the easier it was for me to reject the Census Bureau's need to label me as "Hispanic." You see, none of these were names I would have chosen for myself, especially "sell-out." This was the name given to someone that wants to forget their roots and anybody that defined me as such, did not know me at all.

self portrait of the artist

Title: Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicana
Medium: Screen image from Glass Houses website
Date: 1997



20th Century Influences

Perhaps one of the most pivotal turning points in my life occured during the 90s when I became an undergrad at the University of California, Riverside. During this phase of my life, I learned about Chicana playwrights, poets, and essayists whose plays and publications had received national recognition. The more I learned, the easier it became for me to identify myself as a Xicana (a term used by literary feminist to redefine Chicana.)

You can bet that I will never forget the time my mother found out I was identifying myself as a Chicana. We were having a conversation on the telephone when she blurted out, "Chicana" is a bad word. You can't say that. You don't want to be identified that way." I was shocked at her response because even though I missed the beginning of the Chicano movement, I had come to accept that I was a "Chicana."

It wasn't easy, but I did my best to educate my mother on the political origins of this term and I shared reasons with her about how I felt it applied to my life.


self portrait

Title: I Just Wanted to Be Me
Medium: Screen image from website Glass Houses
Date: 1997


Sadly, the older I became the more I experienced the pain associated with labelling people of color. Even Hollywood stereotyped the Latina dentity as a "whore" or a "maid" and though these new set of labels did contribute to my anxiety over name calling, they also inspired me to produce art that could critically examine contemporary themes based on the complexities of having cultural identity issues.

Today, I ponder whether or not I was destined to become an artist with an interest in pushing the boundaries that exist between politics and art. If so, then I am happy because I am that artist and I am determined to become the best version of me, as a life partner to my husband, a retired arts educator, a full-time artist, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an entrepreneur, a pack leader, and spiritual being who continues to live in search of humanity as a transmedia visual storyteller and advocate for the arts.



New Beginnings in the 21st Century


Goldie's Farm

Medium: Digital Photograph
Date: 2019


At age 67, I am now experiencing the golden years of life and retirement. I only wish the new "normal" that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end soon so we can take what we have learned from this nightmare and apply it to our lives with a greater respect for life and the safety of others.


I feel blessed to be alive. I am grateful to have
the time, energy, resources and passion
to keep busy making art during this pandemic.


On one hand, my life has not changed much during this pandemic and yet on the other hand, our business Goldie’s Farm Artist Retreat & Spiritual Healing Center has been deeply affected. Stay home restrictions and lockdown orders have negatively affected our ability to schedule events and continue with our interest in promoting the arts in the West Shores of the Salton Sea.

On a positive note, all this down time has given me an opportunity to work on fulfilling a lifetime dream that involves designing and building my own house. I am excited about this opportunity and I feel confident that my desire to go green will soon become a reality. Once the pandemic is lifted, the goal of educating others on the possibilites of reducing the footprint we leave on this planet will be explored.

Below is a diagram of my 6’5” x 11’8” eco-friendly, self-sustainable Tiny House/Artist Studio that will reside on the property at Goldie's Farm.. 


tiny house

Title: Tiny House Design
Medium: Digital Drawing
Date: 2020



As I look towards the future, my interests will focus on preparing to list my tiny house on Air B&B as a Tiny House experience for Tiny House enthusiasts at Goldie's Farm Artist Retreat & Spiritual Healing Center. In the Spring 2021, I am planning to install a drive by exhibition that will be titled "Necessities: From Nothing to Something." It will consist of a selection of photographs, video installations, and a website for the purpose of attracting audiences of diverse backgrounds to examine the realities of a "living large" lifestyle versus the “less is more” approach to saving our planet.



tiny house

Title: Tiny House Work in Progress #15
Medium: Digital Photograph
Date: 2020

tiny house

Title: Tiny House Work in Progress #20
Medium: Digital Photograph
Date: 2020

This concludes today's SNEAK PREVIEW. If you are curious about seeing more of my work, please feel encouraged to visit my online artist portfolio linked below.



To my creator OMETEOTL (Nahuatl word for God), my parents Sara Quiroz Laborin & Henry Lee Lopez, my husband Carlos Garcia, my children and everyone who visited and shared this SNEAK PREVIEW with others, I thank you all.

Thank you to the California Desert Arts Council for accepting and awarding this body of work a grant under the Keep-Arts-Alive initiative.

CAdac logo

Thank you to Orange County Contemporary Arts Center for selecting this body of work for their @40 Online Exhibition.


Thank you Robin Repp for all your help @ OCCCA

follow me footsteps Jacalyn Lopez Garcia's online artist portfolio
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