Mandy Cano Villalobos


Mandy Cano Villalobos


Mandy Cano Villalobos

Artist Statement

Much of my practice is informed by my life experiences. Following my grandmother’s death, my mother divorced my father, joined the army and took me with her. I was 1 year old. My mother’s sisters quickly followed her path, vacating our Virginia homestead, a place my family had occupied since the mid 1600’s. Childhood was a succession of army bases and new schools. Whenever my mother went on active duty, she shipped me off to various relatives throughout the U.S. I sought locational and generational belonging in old photos and family stories. Such second hand memories became a surrogate home. This disjunctured experience of time undergirds all of my projects. I address our understanding of chronological progression, collective and personal memory, and the atemporality of ritual in a variety of ways - from performances and video, to sculptures, drawings and textile works. A diverse approach enables me to situate my personal history and practice within a larger context. For example, I often use discarded clothing, burlap, wine, tea, breastmilk, ash, human hair and ink. I am not only attracted to the physicality of these materials, but I also love their rich cultural associations. Burlap connotes labor, mourning, and poverty. It also continues to function as shipping sacks for coffee, rice, sugar and other products tainted by the history of global trade. Tea possesses similar associations. A comforting staple for much of the world, the tea trade is wed to the Anglo colonization of India, China’s Opium Wars, and the ultimate collapse of the British Empire. Wine teeters between debauchery and sacred ceremony. Hair is bodily identity, suggesting both desire and repulsion. It is the product of an aberrant beauty market, as well as a material loaded with mythological references. In harnessing the layered meanings of my materials, I access multiple times and cultures, and find a placement and purpose for my own finitude. Process is equally significant. Textile works, for example, are more than objects; rather, they are relics of a ritualistic process during which I open myself to the passing seconds, minutes, and hours. Ser Humilis is a vestige of 6 months spent hand-stitching rags. This massive shroud embodies prolonged touch and contains the histories of each fabric’s former use. I see my projects as a materialization of time, a record of my process and life. Studio production is an external reflection of my want for home. The short moments I occupy earth are couched in a larger human context in which we all are conditioned by matters of gender, race, culture, and a longing for something that exceeds those limitations. The more I labor within the studio, the more I make a place for myself within this world, and reconcile life’s brevity with a sense of belonging.



Mandy Cano Villalobos, “Mandy Cano Villalobos,” Artist Parent Index , accessed December 6, 2023,

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