Falling into Place(s)
Last month marked one year in Oaxaca. I moved here on a whim, but it was always a place I dreamed of making home since my first visit many years ago. What had drawn me to this place is likely somewhat cliché, it has to do with the magic of the place really. This magic is the result of a multicultural space woven together by indigenous groups and languages, and the conflicting mishmash of prehispanic, colonial and postcolonial heritage which all converges in the capital Oaxaca de Juárez, where I live. Like much of Mexico, Oaxaca is a place of contradictions. There is an intersectionality where all of these identities of what it is to be oaxaqueño overlap. But at the same time there are clear cut divisions and a large gap when it comes to the distribution of wealth causing massive disparity and inequalities. Even though this gap causes social friction between the classes people remain persistent in their kindness and generosity, and this I believe is the social hallmark of the city and state. Furthermore, it is this tension which spawns a great amount of artistic talent here, and art is one of the many reasons to be in Oaxaca. We have a fairly diverse and wonderful burgeoning art scene in this city, much thanks to the street artists who decorate the city’s walls as reminders of its revolutionary past and present.
Oaxaca is like a sweater. It is comfortable and cozy, but sometimes the heat gets to you and you need to sweat and suffer a little. When I walk the streets of centro it feels like they are hugging me. Soft architectural spaces are punctuated by cobbled streets and towering cathedrals. The city has a distinct rhythm to it and once you find synchronicity with it it will carry you away. There is so much to make you feel at home and in peace: the architecture is stunning, the food unabashedly declares its own universe of flavors and textures making it wholly unique to the region, the friendly people, the art and culture, the rhythm, the tempo and pace of each day, and even the difficulties one faces each day when living here all add up to making this wonderful place home.
This will not be a travel blog specifically. Firstly, because I live in Oaxaca, and; secondly, because this blogs intentions are to speak of art, writing, food and culture in general. Instead this blog will highlight art and culture and my evolving opinions about it. Of course I will be highly influenced and perhaps biased by my location, but that is a part of this evolution. I am currently in this liminal space between being a part of a community and at the same time being a foreigner. I am between two (or more) languages, I am between cultures, and I am trying to bridge these gaps if at all possible by including myself and fully investing in the place I love so much. This blog will act as the breadcrumbs which track my growth as a teacher, poet, writer, artist and musician in Oaxaca and Mexico. Moreover, and possibly more importantly, this blog will act as a resource to anyone wishing to learn about and find a different perspective on Mexican art, food and culture. I will not limit my writing to Mexico and I will attempt to take a cosmopolitan approach to discussing art, food and culture; however, I ask readers to take into consideration the great affect location has on ones perspective.
So, I hope you will join me as I continue to fall into (or out of) place, and that you invest some time in interacting with me and my website. Besides being a personal blog this website acts as a portfolio of my writing, printing and artwork. Take some time to look around.
Kevin M. Rowe