Multimedia artist Jackie Milad combines painting, drawing, and collage—many of which were on display earlier this month at the Armory Show in New York City—to address her upbringing as a first-generation child in a multiethnic family. The daughter of an Egyptian father and a Honduran mother, she grew up in a trilingual household filled with a mélange of food, stories, and cultural influences. In her art, she seeks to explore her family’s story across continents while also conveying what it is like to be at the intersection of gender, race, culture, and history in America today. “I have always been drawn to history as a broad, general subject,” she says. “Thinking about the history of museums, collections, and acquisitions, but then also the history of culture and the histories of my peoples—how does history make a person? How does heritage define who we are as individuals?”
Milad compiles artifacts from her life—such as musical lyrics, remembered phrases, and pieces of her earlier works—in a way that is both organized and chaotic. “I intentionally keep all my little scraps [of my past work] and dig deep into my archives because it has a lot to do with this idea of showing history,” she says. “It’s layer after layer — that’s why collage is so exciting to me, it’s the history of my making — of my hand — on the work.” She says that viewers who spend time with her pieces, especially those who are Spanish-speakers, might notice hidden Easter eggs. “I grew up with a mom who had a potty mouth,” she says. “And so people will come over to me and say, ‘There are a lot of bad words in this work!’ I love having different people have different experiences.”
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