Dr. Aimee Carrillo-Rowe Speaks on Queer Xicana Art and the Indigenous Connections

This virtual conference demonstrates how LGBTQIA artists are connecting with their indigenous roots

Queer Xicana artists of the 21st century are using their indigenous roots to reconnect with their ancestors, and educate others about their history. Dr. Aimee Carrillo-Rowe is a communication studies professor at California State University Northridge who majors in genres such as feminist theory and cultural studies.

During a March 15 Zoom event at Glendale Community College, Rowe gave a lecture on the meaning behind these native influenced art pieces and what they mean to the creators. One of the most common experiences these queer artists have is that they feel an immediate connection to the form of art they are creating, even if they have never engaged in it in the past, according to Rowe. “As soon as I put my fingers into that wet earth, it just felt like I had been there before,” said Gina Aparicio, a Xicana artist Rowe examined, when talking about her first experience with clay molding. “The inner feeling within my body triggered a sense of safety, like a safe space, like being held when you are afraid, and someone you love holds you.” Aparicio felt a connection with her indigenous ancestors and somehow knew exactly how to mold the wet clay in her hands, despite having no previous experience. 

Professor Rowe stated that most of these Xicana artists love feeling that deep spiritual connection to their past and even engage in rituals that help further enhance that link. In an interview with Gina Aparicio, she explained how she would sit outside under the pure moonlight and “disconnect from the capitalist time in whole.” This is a ritual that engages the landbody, which is the belief that the human body is the link between the earth and sky.

 Furthermore, Rowe asserted that these Xicana artists are using their native roots as a focus piece in order to make the general public aware that they exist as a people. They want their viewers to be aware of the native presence that is in Los Angeles County because many are not educated on the struggles of these indigenous communities.

 According to Rowe, many artists use themes of “colonialism, injustice, sexism, and cultural norms as a focus point on their works.” An example she used was a famed painting by Charles Hilliard entitled “Reverse Manifest Destiny,” which details a native woman walking in the opposite direction of the angel, who brings back the health and vitality to the people. This enables individuals to acknowledge the history and struggles of indigenous peoples through various forms of art. Considering that manifest destiny is oftentimes pictured as a positive component of American history, Xicanx art forces one to see the consequences of this mindset on indigenous communities worldwide.  

“There is a notion that indigenous people do not exist anymore, and that is mainly what these artists are trying to contradict,” Rowe said. 


To learn more about the topics discussed, reach out to Dr. Aimee Carrillo-Rowe at (818) 677-5378 or by email [email protected].

To access the footage of the event visit: https://bit.ly/33ZZn4


Jessica Galán can be contacted at [email protected]