Ruda Phat

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"Ruda Phat"

Más Rudas Chicana arts group challenges body image though photo, paint, video, textile installation

SAN ANTONIO – Since 2009, Chicana arts collective Más Rudas has challenged long-held societal views of women as subordinate, passive, inferior, dainty, and polite. Their work confronts the societal norms of what women should be, coming to terms with the issues and accepting aspects of themselves and their identities.
From Aug. 17 to Dec. 1, the Institute of Texan Cultures will offer guests an opportunity to view the latest work from Más Rudas, "Ruda Phat," which addresses issues of body image. The exhibit weaves together personal meditations from members Mari Hernandez, Kristin Gamez, Sarah Castillo, and Ruth Leonela Buentello, expressed in artistic videos, photographs, illustrations, and fiber.
With "Ruda Phat," the artists confronted mainstream society’s representations of women's bodies. They, in turn, challenge viewers to rethink their own perspectives on the female body. Más Rudas contends that societal norms cause women to internalize negative perceptions of their bodies. By showing a diversity of body types, they hope to resolve the issues that cause women discomfort in their own skin, and offer a way for viewers to reach a level of understanding and acceptance.
"This will be a bit edgier than our typical exhibits," said exhibit curator Sarah Gould, "but it addresses an important cultural issue and I’m excited that we’re able to present their newest work."
Artist Mari Hernandez chose to execute a self-portrait based on the "ugliest woman in the world," Julia Pastrana.
"This photo reflects my earliest memories of being uncomfortable with my reflection and will be an exaggerated response to my perception of society’s mainstream beauty standards," she explained.
Kristin Gamez describes her video installation as "showcasing beauty rituals I used to complete alone in my room as a young girl."
A photo collage of Mexican American women by Sarah Castillo explores beauty in Mexican American culture.
Ruth Buentello’s fiber sculpture of lonjas, or fatrolls, and drawings, "expose my inner conflict with loving and hating Tex-Mex foods."
While the four typically generate their own contributions to an installation, Ruda Phat will be the first time all four have collectively designed and executed a piece together. They have each added a personal touch to a mixed-media mirror.
"Two years ago I saw the Más Rudas exhibition, ‘Más Triste San Antonio,’ about the discrepancies between tourist San Antonio and working class San Antonio," said Gould. "What caught my attention was the artists’ ability to weave history, sociology, and personal narrative into their art. At that point I knew I wanted to bring them to ITC."
Formed in 2009 to represent a generation of Chicanisma within the San Antonio arts community as well as larger U.S. arts community, Mas Rudas has exhibited at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Gallery in San Antonio, TX; Slanguage Studio in Los Angeles, CA; Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, TX; Unit B Gallery in San Antonio, TX; and ArtPace in San Antonio, TX. More information about Más Rudas can be found at
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit


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