Celina Gonzalez Cortez was born in Michoacán, Mexico. She lived in small town until she was eight years old. Her father was a seasonal field worker and would visit his family every year. Then one day her father told the family that they would be moving to the United States of America. In 2003 her whole family moved and settled in Stockton, California. After first attending a public school and struggling with a new language she was pulled to James Urbani English Language Institute where she quickly learned English. She was also experiencing culture shock because many things changed, celebrations, family, food, and people were all different. After two years of attending James Urbani she was put back in a public school and became proficient in reading, speaking, and writing English.
It wasn’t until she attended High School that she began to rediscover her Mexican culture. She was taking an art class at Weber Institute where she was asked to attend an art gallery. She attended the Mexican Heritage Center and she saw her culture in a gallery. She saw how they followed and celebrated Mexican traditions. The gallery and the art classroom sparked and interest in rediscovering her culture. As she graduated high school and attended San Joaquin Delta College, she decided to major in art. Then transferred to Sacramento State where she was able to meet friends that also were exploring their identity through their artwork. This inspired her to look at her roots and where she came from. She took multicultural classes, and art classes that helped her look deeper into her roots, family, and traditions. She graduated Sacramento State with a B.A in Studio Art with a concentration in painting and drawing and a teaching credential. She currently works as a High School teacher helping students explore their identity through various types of art.
My subjects include food, clothing, music, traditions, and culture. These things make up who I am as a person and what I am subconsciously drawn to. My work comes from who I am, what I have been through and trying to identify myself as a Mexican woman living in America. I've lived in America for the past 17 years, but I carry with me a piece of Mexico wherever I go. I paint to remember and to capture moments that are significant to me. I use mediums like painting, collage, drawing, sculpture, assemblage, and many more.
I look for imagery in my parents’ home, and in my memories of Mexico. I realized that when I am around my family, I feel inspired. Being around my parents and their environment helps me to remember things from when I lived in Mexico and the times I have visited. Remembering and painting is my way of encapsulating my experiences while at the same time creating a new environment. It is also how I show respect to my culture. I hope that my images spark a feeling or emotion to even those who are not familiar with my subject. In addition, I also hope that my work can make individuals proud of their Mexican culture and or culture.
Being in VOICES provides me with a space to express who I am and what I think. I can speak about the injustices that are happening around the world and how exploring my identity helps me find myself in all this chaos. The world has gone through a lot in the past couple of years and trying to Identify the memories and things that help us in these current times shows resilience. Our ancestors would be proud of our resilience and our “Ganas” to survive and prosper.