Breaking Through Race, Identity, and Gender

I remember in 1st-grade going to the back of the game room in our classroom and pulling out the Candy Land board that was usually buried underneath a ton of shoots and ladders, scattered Uno cards, and many other memory themed games.

I loved Candy Land.

As a kid, an imaginary land full of candy-themed stops and fairies is a dream, and a dream I wanted to be a part of every day during recess.

For as long as I can remember, Candyland has always been a childhood favorite amongst not only myself but my peers as well. As a 7- year old, the up and down board game that followed a literal land of candy to the end of a road was oddly satisfying and intriguing. I was particularly obsessed with Mr. Mint and Queen Frostine. Thinking back on a time where I was naive and unaware of the world about me viewing Yvette's art took me back to this specific time in my childhood life.

Due to the design of the game, there is no strategy involved: players are never

required to make choices, just follow directions. The winner is predetermined by the shuffle of the cards. Who knew the rules of a board game would apply so literally to our day-to-day lives as a society.

In conversation with Yvette, she shares her need to tackle the complex issues of race, identity, and gender and how she pulls relevant well-known board games as inspiration to get her point across.

What inspires your artistic style and why do you use the mediums that you do?

The materials and tools I use to create my work are informed by familial labor in cake decorating, construction, and candy production. Every work I create I am referencing labor of cake piping/decorating onto a canvas in order to address gendered labors while also commenting on immigrant labor specific to my familial history. The work I make addresses my experience, the way I see the world, all through the lens of also acknowledging the generations of labor that has contributed to my position as a maker.

Why is color such a huge component in your artwork? Do you have a favorite color?

Color is important in my work as much as the material is, I see color as a material and tool to work with to also defy categories and nuances. I often use pink, many hues and tones of pink, in order to point out its indexical connection to gender, but I turn it on its head by using it as a method to discuss militarization and trauma. Like Dr. Jillian Hernandez has said about my work, “Pink is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Explain your use of the board game Candyland, in comparing its framework to the borderlands of the U.S and Mexico.

My work is heavily researched-based, I am always interested in referencing and researching consumerist objects from my childhood, art history, and architecture. I began to use Candyland early on in my work as a way to bridge ideas of homeland, identity, and labor. The game was one of my favorites growing up and I was really drawn to the imagery of it, the made-up landscapes and the way the player maneuvered around the path in order to get to the castle. I like to use it as a comparison to immigrating to the US and this idea that bodies travel across the landscape/border in order to attain the American Dream.

What do you want people to take with them when viewing your art?

I want the viewer to feel enticed by the materiality of the work based on their preconceived notions of pink and experiences with cake-as both ideas of playfulness and indulgence-and to be faced with my subject matter that deconstructs these preconceived notions.

What does the American Dream mean to you?

I don’t necessarily understand the American dream, because I believe it to be a construct of American idealism-my work aims to continue to question the idea of it by constantly creating work/installations that are liminal through materials, color, and subject matter similar to its unattainability. I also believe being Latinx is a way of constantly participating in liminal spaces.

How important is the theme of identity when it comes to your work?

Identity has always been something I have never moved away from it in my work even when the institution told me I should stray away from it. It's why I make work, in order to rewrite art history and make space for more identities like mine that are stemming from systems of oppression that have made us believe we don't belong.