Gabriela María Corretjer-Contreras: Identity, History, and Clothing | IN THE WORKS


A lot of clothes I make are just kind of, like, this stream-of-consciousness. I just see a material and it reminds me of something. It’s meant to piece together a lot of family history that is just not talked about. Before coming here, I mostly stayed all my life in Puerto Rico. This is my grandmother. She’s not a person that talks a lot about her feelings. When I make stuff, it’s kind of like a way to talk about memory and family without necessarily speaking words. I create the room of this fictional character called Nena, who’s like my alter ego. The articles of clothing I make, other people are gonna get to wear them in installation, but it’s not supposed to fit anybody else but me. The character’s putting together my experiences as a person and different memories. The skirt—my mom made it when I was a kid for these horrible-ass school dances that we had. We had to play roles of our colonization. I found it and I was just like, oh I want to do something with this. That’s kind of where the memory-connected clothes started from. Do you want it masculine, feminine energy… Both Both I like the act of dressing up, I like the act of making clothes, I’d be having three outfit changes when I’m not going anywhere in my house. Puerto Rico itself, is a country made out of what was left over. We’re just making things with what we have, and that’s kind of how I make my clothes. I do work through things like revisiting where I’m from and this bar feels like a piece of Puerto Rico in New York. As Puerto Ricans, we have a lot of history, and things that have happened, but we don’t talk about them. I think through making something that’s tangible— that you don’t necessarily have to talk about, but is still expressed and is still out of your body— then it creates some collective healing.

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