Latinx AF: "Identity" Chat with Homegirl & Founder of Latina Owned Art and Style Mag:
Photograph of Cemetery in Mesquite, New Mexico by Kim Marie
Armoire Magazine is a Latina-Owned and run digital publication devoted to art, fashion, and culture. The magazine prioritizes the voices and art of Women and WOC, doing so unapologetically to forge an online space for WOC creatives to feel appreciated for their work and accomplishments in fashion, art, and the intersection between the two.
Armoire Magazine is a revolutionary and evolving space- meaning that artists need not fear "Submission Deadlines," and as of Issue 7: Intimates, followers can see the issues grow and evolve as more artists add work to the issues.
From Left to Right: Illustration by Xaviera Lopez featured in Issue 7: Intimates, Photograph by Alicia Lynette Vega for Issue 8: Identity
Issue 8: Identity is of special importance to me, as my personal Identity fuels my drive for Poco A Poco- as confusing and conflicting as it may be for others and even myself to understand. Latinx AF itself focuses on the diversity of our community, because I believe that no matter what, if you identify as latinx (used to be gender inclusive)- you are latinx... as fuck, if you wanna be.
But how do I use my identity responsibly? When can I express my identity and when should I stay quiet, prioritize others voices, and learn from others experiences? When does identity separate, even isolate an individual, and when does it connect an individual to a community? Can we even control our identities- or are we simply how society perceives us?
To further discuss this loaded topic, it's conflicts, and it's benefits in art, community, and for the self- I asked founding editor of Armoire, and my treasured Latina homegirl - Kim Marie, some questions on Armoire, it's evolution, and just what Identity means to her as a woman, minority, and artist:
R.A.: The most recent Issue of Armoire is "Identity." Tell me a little about how you, Kim, identify.
I chose the theme of identity for this issue since "identity politics" and the exploration of identity as a nation has come to the forefront of our conversations - as communities and as individuals. This political climate has forced Americans to think more about this topic which is great, I'm glad we're having these hard conversations. But on the other hand, there is a lot of misinformation, presumptuous, dismissive, and disrespectful commentary being widely shared. That's a big part of what prompted this issue, both my frustrations and gratitude for this political climate; it has expanded my own personal understanding of the complexity of identity.
But to answer your question: Yo soy Latina, biracial, (Chicana - Jew) a fierce mujer, a feminist, a multi-disciplinary creative, a member of the working class poor (and proud of that community!) a person of the resistance, an animal lover, a worshiper of all things feminine, a craftswoman, a culture and music lover, and also, a solita.
Just to clarify, I include "solita" because, although I've enjoyed long term relationships, I have always felt my best self when I am single. If I were a man, nobody would blink an eye at this comment - but as a woman, I have to fight for others to believe that this is true and that I'm not actually "sad," "empty," or "without stability."
R.A.: With all of the complexity of the issue of identity, self identity- and how we handle and confront the ways society identifies us (minorities, POC, mixed race, multi-cultural, biracial, etc.) - what are you looking for with submissions to the Identity Issue.
Women, POC and lgbtq - their identities are always under attack, even from their own communities. That's why I look for content that is for and by marginalized voices: articles, interviews, poems, fine art, photography, video, music, activist features, a broad range of creative and social work is always being accepted. With that said, I will always give women and women of color preference, unapologetically, no matter what.
R.A.: As a photographer, who do you feel is identifying themselves in the finished product. The subject, or the photographer? Is it either? Is it both?
I love creating images one-on-one or with a small team and I pretty much exclusively work with women. When women work together in a comfortable environment where we share identities - it really shows in the imagery. We are living in a global patriarchy and have been since the beginning of time; because of that, it's very powerful to work with female driven teams. I think that the photographer, the subject and anyone involved in the image making process identifies in some way with not only the finished product - but each other. And that is especially true when women work together.
Photographs by: Kim Marie
Another powerful way that photography addresses identity is the way it is perceived beyond the subject or the photographer. You never know the reach of the finished product, who will identify with it, or how they will identify with it. It is all at once beautiful, scary, and empowering.
R.A.: Who are some of your favorite artists? Do you feel like their work and it's effect on you is related to your identity?
I am always inspired by new artists of all mediums - writers, musicians, fine artists, cooks, fashionistas, etc. I think this constant flow of new work, the zeitgeist and spirit of the times is always shaping my identity - every day. If I had to choose favorites, I would say that female revolutionary artists - especially WOC, are the most inspirational to me. Always have been, always will be.
Art by: Collette Marie
With that said, I think childhood is a time where artist influences can be most intense. For that reason, my older sister Collette Marie guided me into the world of art and is an amazing artist herself, so she has had a huge influence over who I am today. Growing up on the border in New Mexico, Frida Kahlo was everywhere - and since she is also a radical biracial woman, I was immensely influenced by her presence and power from an early age. Selena Quintanilla was huge for me as well - a Chicana, Tejana y mujer that paved her own way however she wanted to do it. Growing up on the border in New Mexico, there were many Latino artists that shaped my identity: José Guadalupe Posada, María Izquierdo, Anthony Penneck, Carmen Lomas Garza just to name a few. Latino and Latino-American artists have absolutely shaped what I find beautiful, what I create, and who finds my work inspiring as well.
R.A.: Tell me about the evolution of Armoire- how does this parallel with your personal evolution as the founding editor, and with the evolution of the cultural climate.
I started Armoire Magazine with an old friend back in 2014. Of course, the cultural and political climate was very different then. I had never done a "magazine" or digital space before and I was learning everything as I went along. In the beginning, my only real goal was to have an excuse to create with the East Austin community where I was living at the time. And since it was such a new space, I was open to all entries and submissions and was still shaping the idea of what I wanted Armoire to be.
After taking time away from this project, I found myself very frustrated with media outlets and the way conversations about identity play out, especially online. And with the intersection of social media, where opinions are presented as facts and the more followers a person has, the more "factual" their opinion becomes in the public eye - it allowed me to view Armoire through a new lens. It really dawned on me in recent years the importance of a media space where women and women of color are put first, where marginalized voices are heard, celebrated and respected. And especially in this cultural climate, we need spaces where women, POC and the lgbtq community can tell their own stories, for themselves. I want Armoire to be a space where minorities are not "cancelled," called-out or dragged online for their realities and experiences ... and not for their minor missteps, either. Of course, I still have a lot of work to do with this project but that's what I hope Armoire can become.
"When you're a marginalized voice -
a woman, POC, LGBTQ - it's always radical to speak your own truth ... Chances are, there are many people that have experienced life and identity similarly to you."
R.A.: As personal as identity is, how does the expression of self identity help create bonds and community? Can this expression be seen as radical in spaces where one is the minority?
I've often been afraid to express my own identity, particularly in online spaces, for fear of being "cancelled" or dragged. When you're a marginalized voice - a woman, POC, LGBTQ - it's always radical to speak your own truth. Although it's always been radical for minorities to express themselves, there is a right wing empowerment happening in Trump's America right now, alongside a lot of faux activism; both are abusive to marginalized people. If you're not being attacked from one side, you're being attacked from the other. In this landscape, minorities are silenced out of fear from all angles.
Family Fotos: A Chicana and Jewish upbringing
I have found that as long as one's identity is expressed in a respectful and genuine way - it is not only radical but an amazing way to connect with others. Chances are, there are many people that have experienced life and identity similarly to you. That is one thing that is beautiful about fearless expression; and online - although you never know which troll you're going to ignite, you also never know which future friendship you could ignite, either. It takes bravery to openly self identify as a marginalized person in this world but when you do, it's absolutely worth it.