By Kari Araujo
Weslaco is no stranger to cultivating native talent like local artist Liliane Avalos. For the month of November, the historic Downtown Weslaco Museum has been hosting Avalos’ first solo art show titled Home Grown.
At just 28 years young, Liliane Avalos is juxtaposing 7 years of her vibrant, contemporary work alongside her hometown’s collection of antique photos and artifacts that date back to the 18th century to present a glimpse of her modern hued spirit. Avalos’ optimistic energy is apparent in her work which introduces themes of family, culture and death with prismatic patterns and colors.
“I believe life is only worth living because we die, we are impermanent, every moment in life is worth living and every breath is a gift” says Avalos, who is speaking from a deeply personal experience.
“My biological father passed away when I was a little girl and without a doubt it definitely altered my perception on life and all I had was death on my mind.”
Avalos says she soon realized that the constant depictions of death in her art were therapeutic to her emotions on this subject, and that through being honest in her work she began to find healing. After becoming a certified yoga teacher, Avalos’ views on the subject of life and death shifted yet again, this time to an enlightened, positive perception. She has found that meditating on the present and the ripple effect her work will have on those who experience it has shifted her approach to something far more positive.
Less than a month away from the opening of her first show, Avalos experienced the death of a close family member once again. Her grandfather, Jose Avalos, passed away on October 13th, 2017.
“My grandfather was excited for my first solo show, he would come over and check up on my progress to encourage me to keep going. He didn’t get to physically make it to my show but his love and optimism is present in my work.”
That love and optimism has allowed Avalos to come face to face once again with what she calls her “inner child” who takes inspiration from anything and everything.
“From a ray of sunlight, a podcast, Netflix’s Narcos, my Spotify playlist.. inspiration is limitless.”
She credits her unrestricted color palette, intermixing of organic and geometric shapes, and dynamic strokes to this new, ‘anything goes’ approach. Avalos compares her creative process to trying to solve a puzzle that doesn’t really exist and her illusive work is the result.
The title Home Grown came to Avalos as an epiphany while painting a Nopal cactus in one of the pieces currently featured at her show. The artist mentions that while listening to her mother talk about the basil in their family garden, she began to think about all the fruits and vegetables that were not just growing, but thriving right in her backyard. She was reminded of the natural, home-made taste of the orange and grapefruit juice her grandmother used to make for her growing up and thought:
“Damn, I miss those times. I loved how everything was home grown.”
Through her work, Avalos wants her community to feel excitement, optimism and pride for the Rio Grande Valley’s Hispanic culture especially during tumultuous, political times for Hispanic and Mexican people.
“During this time in history where the current administration wishes to divide us based upon our heritage. I will continue to create work expanding and traveling with Home Grown in communities that may not be predominantly Hispanic, sharing our beautiful culture in a contemporary way.”
In addition to her own work in Weslaco, Liliane Avalos wants to promote the need for more contemporary and urban public art around the Rio Grande Valley. Avalos believes that giving Rio Grande Valley artists the platforms and support to display their creative work, murals, sculptures, paintings and installations is not only important and therapeutic for the artists themselves, but also for the community. She mentions that it is important for the public to have access to works by local artists to gain a better understanding of the human experience as a whole and know how much we all truly have in common.
When asked what she hoped the public would gain or walk away with after attending Home Grown Avalos said:
“I want them to understand we all hurt the same, so let there be light and the brightest of colors even where darkness may reside.”
Home Grown is currently on display at the Downtown Weslaco Museum until November 30th.