(SAN ANTONIO) – While the new art exhibit at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures is formally titled “Transcendental Tricentennial,” David Zamora Casas put his signature on it adding the subtitle “The (he)Art of David Zamora Casas.”
From March 23 to July 28, the institute’s 1,400 sq.ft. multi-purpose exhibit gallery space will struggle to contain Zamora Casas’ explosive creativity. Bright-colored ribbons burst forth from the gallery entrance doors like blood-pulsing veins, drawing visitors to a large-scale on-site installation encouraging them to contemplate identity and 10,000 years of native inhabitants in the Americas.
“The Institute of Texan Cultures is about identity – the things that define us,” said executive director Angelica Docog. “What we’re seeing is 300 years of San Antonio, David’s life experiences and his personal discoveries and perspective telling a nuanced story of our city and the people who call it home.”
Zamora Casas identifies as American Mexican, Latinx, Chicano, Tejano and Queer which heavily informs and influences his artistic expression. Zamora Casas reflects on ideas and concepts beyond remembrance, into life experience, history and identity. The (he)Art of David Zamora Casas highlights themes including love, romance, and global plunder by adopting the Chicano sensibility known as “Rasquachismo,” which is defined by eminent scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto as “a visceral response to a lived working-class reality” (a uniquely Chicano aesthetic and perspective).
“Es justo y necesario to give Queer culture a voice!” says the self-named ‘Nuclear Meltdown,’ Zamora Casas. “Every day is a conscious daily effort to decolonize my thinking and understand the diverse GLBTQ+ community. Ultimately, this floor-to-ceiling installation is a grand gesture of resistance, affirmation and hope.”
The exhibit itself is a piñata of visual narrative, filled with miles of ribbon, yards of fabric, embellished prints, various on-site assemblages, oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, barbed wire and bone sculptures, and a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda which challenges the audience’s personal and global levels of consciousness.
The artist explores contemporary terms such as Genderfluid, Boi, and Non-binary, to examine identity and culture, and challenge mainstream hetero-normativity. He explains, “marginalized people use these terms to identify our sexual orientation/identity by choice of our preferred pronouns.”
“David speaks in a language we as San Antonians can relate to, but has a subtext which challenges us to understand,” said Docog. “When we read the symbols, contrasts, and complements, we understand a bigger, more challenging story that establishes the gay community as very much a part of who and what San Antonio and Texas are.”
As part of the exhibit, scholar and poet Norma Elia Cantú described the experience of Zamora Casas’ work in her essay, “A Site of Living Public Art: San Antonio Artivist [activist-artist], David Zamora Casas:”
“… With his signature Dali-esque moustache, fiery red lipstick, and waxed spiked hair above a long braided goatee, San Antonio performance artivist David Zamora Casas embodies a futurist gender-bending Chicanx aesthetic. Zamora Casas’ body-specific signifiers (i.e. body hair, tattoos, clothes, etc.) function as critiques of gendered assumptions.”
Zamora Casas would like to thank Bihl Haus Arts, Trinity University and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures for their support.
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA Hemisfair 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 $10 for adults (18-64); $8 for seniors (ages 65+) and children (6-17); children 5 and under free; free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.