Piece of Work

Consisting of a vintage dental cabinet, two scrolls of paper, and a tree-painted background, Celia Alvarez Muñoz's installation "Stories Your Mother Never Told You" is an interactive tour de force that touches on those very issues central to Muñoz's artmaking practice: memory, personal identity, and community.

Piece of Work

Stories Your Mother Never Told You

Wood, paper, paint, texts, and other media, by Celia Alvarez Muñoz

in "Stories Your Mother Never Told You,"

through May 4 at Mexic-Arte Museum

Besides being the name of the 22-year survey of Celia Alvarez Muñoz's career in photography, bookmaking, and installation, "Stories Your Mother Never Told You" is also the title of her conceptual and multilingual installation, originally created for the 1990 exhibition "Family Stories" at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island, N.Y. Consisting of a vintage dental cabinet, two scrolls of paper, and a tree-painted background, this work is an interactive tour de force that touches on those very issues central to Muñoz's artmaking practice: memory, personal identity, and community. Exhibited at various venues over the past 12 years, at each site Muñoz has subtly adapted the texts to best express that community's collective memories and personal stories.

To read each of the stories, one must physically interact with the work. This means going up to the cabinet and opening up each of the shallow drawers to read what Muñoz has written inside. Like so much of her work, the stories are anecdotal in nature, revealing those gaps between childhood memories and adult life, as well as one's personal and collective identities. The last three drawers, filled with dental molds used forensically to identify individuals, underscore this intent. Here Muñoz palpably uses the relationship between scientific "facts" and a person's lived experiences to question what constitutes the very nature of identity.

To Muñoz, the viewer is integral to her work. After all, those people are who form the communities in which her work participates and responds. Accordingly, as part of the installation, Muñoz asks that you write a personal narrative about your childhood memories, a story that if you are lucky may just appear in one of her future artworks.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Stories Your Mother Never Told You, Mexic-Arte Museum, Family Stories, Snug Harbor Cultural Center

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