Selena Velasco / Chamoru
Would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Selena Lourdes Velasco. My middle name is from my grandmother Lourdes. I am a queer femme, Chamoru mother to 8 year old brown child, a tender loving Virgo, a mixed media/ visual artist and poet.
Can you share more about where you are from and what inspires you to create?
I am from the island of Guåhan, raised throughout these stolen indigenous lands, as well as a product of US imperialism and militarization of Guåhan. Currently residing on the indigenous lands of coast Salish/ Duwamish territory.
My ancestors, nature, my child, my healing, matriarchs, my queerness, inspire me to create - to share my journey of healing.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative takes many forms for me. Often It means I'm breathing life into an idea or an experience I had. I use my poetry, words as a compass to create visualizations through collaged imagery. Creating visuals, creating words, creating a feeling, creating a memory through art is truly a gift.
Can you tell us more about some of the works that you had created for the exhibit?
This exhibit was so special to me as a Pacific Islander, Chamoru artist! In particular the pieces that allowed me to commemorate the matriarchs in my life! Stringing each flower in the space with my friend Micah was so magical, because I thought of my grandmother's love for flowers and how her spirit filled the space with every flower hung. To showcase photography taken by my sister Analisa of my mother standing next to a portrait of her mother to show the generations of matriarchs I come from brings me so much joy. Also the enlarged image of my mother with hands in her hair and a golden painted crown around her head symbolizing that she is saint-like, a matriarch I revere and honor.
Why were these themes and ideas important to you to explore?
Matriarchs have always been important to me because there were so many stories I wish I knew about the ancestors I come from. By calling them into the exhibit space, allowed me to remember the mothers, grandmothers, femmes I come from. To remember that before colonization and patriarchy, matriarchs led and nourished and continued to plant seeds of resilience in our indigenous communities. That matriarchs are the land that we come from, that land that gives life.
How was it working with other artists on this exhibit? What was that process like?
Working with other Pacific Islander artists was such a dream because this was my first time collaborating with PI artists where many identified also as queer! From planning in the committee team to organically installing our pieces it all wove together so magically. We incorporated themes our ancestors would be proud of: from water, earth, weaving, hair, matriarchs, song, chants...It was truly incredible to share space with beautiful PI artists that worked with such amazing mediums.
What other works in the exhibit resonated with you and why?
One piece created by another queer Chamoru artist, Roquin, that resonated with me was their embroidered piece of three generations. 3 embroidered hoops with 3 generations of brown Womxn/femmes holding each other's hair. This struck me because I too incorporated a piece that was inspired by the same archived image of 3 Chamoru Womxn doing each other's hair! In the exhibit, I have a photograph taken by my sister of my mother, niece and older sister braiding each other's hair. Roquin and I had no idea that we were simultaneously creating pieces that were inspired by the same image! Now both pieces live side by side in the exhibit - like the ancestors wanted them to be!
What does your vision of Pasifika look like?
My vision of Pasifika is intergenerational where our elders are continuing tradition of oral story telling in our indigenous languages. Where food and story continue to be made and shared. Where generations to come will keep dreaming of our ancestors dreams. Where my child will look to the matriarchs in their life, like I did and pray to them, ask them for guidance and resilience. Where our islands of the Pasifika remember that we come from the starlit seas that our ancestors navigated together to bring us here today.