Meet Janeth Aparicio. A college student. An artist. An activist.
Janeth is the founder of the organization Que Lastima that assists in the showcasing of artwork created by POC, especially WOC and QPOC.
SPEAKING WITH JANETH:
What influenced you to start Que Lastima?
“I felt this need to provide spaces for POC and QPOC with opportunities to show their work because being POC and trying to navigate like how to show your work… within a traditional gallery setting, it’s just really really hard and no one tells you how to go about it and it’s just really difficult. And so I just wanna make it easier for POC to show work and then, yeah, just have like a fun little space for them to feel comfortable and supported.”
What do you think the difficulties of being a colored artist in Los Angeles are?
“In one respect, the art community in Los Angeles felt really white-centric and they’re like different facets into how you feel uncomfortable as a POC because when I go to “established galleries”… in LA which are mostly white galleries I sort of like-I know I shouldn’t- but I can’t help but sort of feel uncomfortable. That space wasn’t created for me. Sort of like…. the Hauser & Wirth [Jason Rhoades] exhibit where he hung up neon words… for vagina but he was a white man and it was supposed to be cultural but he was white and he used rugs, religious islamic rugs, but he was white. And it made no sense to me and that’s an example of me feeling uncomfortable. And then sometimes I feel like POC art is devalued by white artists as being seen as not as important and not as good…… And you’ve got to keep in mind that POC don’t have, you know, the same opportunities to practice their art as like people with higher socio-economic statuses often do. So there’s that gap and… when they are accepted its sort of a tokenized thing. There are examples like Jimmie Durham, he kind of makes work about this. He’s a sculptor and a painter and he’s Native American and he has this one sculpture where it’s a figure of him as explicitly, almost exaggerating, Native American and it’s a comment on how galleries want him because he’s Native American and [use] his Native American status as a token for their diversity….. So there’s still a struggle for genuine spaces for POC artists.
It’s always a difficult thing to think about and navigate, like when can we tell the difference between tokenization and actual making spaces. I think it’s an actual effort to integrate them in the normal spaces…. for example a popular gallery in Chinatown: do they include POC art in regular group exhibitions without making it about “This is POC, you should go see them because they’re POC” instead of just saying “This work is great”. It’s the same as any other great work out there…. Also, there still needs to be occasions where we give these opportunities because they are not normal. And people don’t really talk about it a lot. They sort of tip toe around it which is weird. There’s just a lot of mixed signals and underlined motives. Its weird.”
What do you think the advantages of being a white artist are?
“White artists have so many connections in Los Angeles! They have to work 10x less than POC to get what they do get. Its crazy. Not to bash on the owner of New Image Art because she’s great and she got me an internship and she helped me out, but her son had it so much easier than I do obviously because his mom is a gallery owner and he can have shows there, and it’s an established gallery already. Whereas I have to seek those out. Its just easier because of their connections in LA.”
If you could put together your dream art show what would it look like?
“I have really been playing with the idea of having a sound installation. And I’m still thinking through this and working through it but there’s…. do you know the Art Laboe show? (yeah) Is it still going on? (I don’t think so) Yeah it was cancelled, but in-between songs he would do shout outs and it was really important because it was how people from prison would hear from their loved ones without having to pay. And I kind of wanted to do something related to that where it was a bunch of layered shoutouts, without the songs in-between, just continuing and continuing and continuing on repeat. And just have different work from different artists that related to that in some way…. I really want to do something with that but I want to make it perfect and really polished. And so I’m taking a break from doing small shows but I do help Minty Boi with his shows but thats not my stuff…. I want to make it really about the art and really professional. Which is something that I’m not really used to because I’m not really professional. But I think it can still be chill which is what I’m trying to do.”
Why call it “Que Lastima” ?
“I just really liked how it sounded. I think i got the idea… I was feeling really really Mexican one day and I was listening to a Vicente Fernandez song.. it’s like really sad Mexican ballads, the mariachi kind of stuff. And so I was listening to that and I think he said ‘que lastima’ in one of his songs and I was like that sounds so nice…It means ‘what a pity.”
Connect with Janeth!
If you are a POC or QPOC artist send submissions and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org