Hugo Ximello-Salido is a multidisciplinary, Mexican American artist whose work explores themes of cultural and personal identity, communication, connection and intersection. Inspired by culture, history and contemporary issues, the artist creates thoughtful pieces full of color and texture. Hugo’s artwork will be on display at the Blue Valley branch until April 30, 2023.
Introduce yourself and describe your process and medium(s).
As a Mexican American, I bring forth my heritage as a crucial component to keep my culture alive. As an artist, I am fascinated by the dialogue between different cultures and traditions. By exhibiting in Mexico, the United States and upcoming European sites, I’ve found inspiration in the intersection of diverse communities and gained an appreciation for worldly interactions.
I explore personal experiences, emotions, and connections through the lens of my past and present in order to create a vibrant future. Through my work, I strive to increase social awareness of the many parts of my intersectional identity and experience as a Mexican American member of the LGBTQ community. Through each piece, I seek to convey a unique yet universal sense of being, feeling or thought. I hope to challenge stereotypes, commercialization and commodification, and the arbitrary barriers we create between our shared humanity.
My early work focuses on the legacy of Mexican culture and its collision with the American experience. Major inspirations include Mexican colonial style, "La Catrina" (the elegant skull), and other culturally significant symbols such as La Loteria Mexicana (Mexican bingo), papel picado (perforated tissue paper), and Talavera. I use a variety of materials, including acrylic paint, ink, gels, sand, papier-mâché, spray paint, and more to modernize, revive, and reinvent the Mexican art that inspires me.
You have described your textiles as inspired by the topography of Oaxaca, Mexico – were you inspired by personal experiences with the landscape or through research?
I first experienced Oaxaca, Mexico as a 15-year-old, traveling from my home in Guadalajara during a crucial time in my discovery of my sexuality. The vibrant culture in Oaxaca informed my journey to self-acceptance.
Years later I would visit Oaxaca again - as an adult and an artist, now living in the American Midwest - and meet the Muxes. I encountered Felina and Rubi in Juchitan, and although I had little prior knowledge of Muxe and their culture, I was immediately struck by the enigmatic beauty and power that they brought to their daily lives.
I remembered my journey to Oaxaca as a young man and was immediately inspired to celebrate and share in this unique and vital community - a fusion of Zapotec culture and colonial influence that created a place where gender fluidity could blossom, where self-expression could create beauty, and where art and life could converge.
This meeting was the beginning of a new journey - an effort to learn about Muxe culture, appreciate its singular history and contemporary expression, and to help share its beauty with the world.
Talk a little about the Muxe culture and their influence on the pieces on view.
While there is some overlap with the transgender community, the Muxes exist within their own cultural context and gender identity in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Muxes constitute a completely separate category of gender identity based on gender attributes, or third gender. Unlike many transgender persons in the United States, the Muxes are highly respected in their community and are said to bring good luck and fortune to those who surround them. The Muxe culture embodies a complex identity that beckons to be brought to light.
What impact do you hope your work has on the viewer?
Through educating the American public about the unique experiences of Muxe, I hope to honor this aspect of Mexican culture in a way that also broadens the horizons of the viewer, connecting art and culture to inspire thought and discussion about sexuality and gender both here and abroad. I also aim to subvert the commercialized model of Mexican art and better represent its full spectrum, from folk art to “fine” art and beyond.
What is your most important artistic tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Easy, my Mayline Electric Future-Matic Drafting table is amazing!!
Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that inspire you.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
Anything from P.H. Lovecraft
anything with director Guillermo del Toro
David Alfaro Siqueiros