This new project was born out of an effort to feel more connected and learn up-to-date information artists and curators across the country. Every week, creators from across different disciplines share their new projects, quarantine hobbies and what gives them hope about art today.
Patricia Ruiz-Healy is currently working and living between New York City and San Antonio, Texas.
Is there a particular project for work, either new or ongoing, that is capturing your attention?
I have been giving most of my attention to updating the gallery database and website. We were lucky in that we started working on this in late February. When the stay-at-home order came in, the whole Ruiz-Healy Art team was able to work from home on this vast project of fourteen years. It keeps me sane and gives me a deep sense of accomplishment looking back through the gallery archive. At the same time, I started to update the records of my personal art collection. I am an art historian by training and these months allowed me to get back to doing lots of archival work which I like very much.
Why are you drawn to work on it at this moment?
I am an optimist at heart, and I know that this frightful time will pass. I am extremely excited about exhibiting new works at both the galleries in New York City and San Antonio. I do try to maintain a level of normalcy. My heart aches that we will not be able to have our regular art openings—that it is such an important time to celebrate the artists and their new works. Art openings are more than parties it’s a way for the artistic community to come together and exchange ideas. I am hopeful that we will resume the events as soon as there is a vaccine. In the meantime, we can host small groups.
Have you picked up any new hobbies?
Unfortunately, not. My focus has been on keeping the business afloat, applying for grants, getting in touch with artists, family, friends, and collectors. I am lucky that in the middle of the pandemic I was able to move forward my American citizenship. I was quite stressed about it. I took the oath of citizenship the last week of August and I could not be happier.
Our worlds have become much more localized due to COVID-19. Has your local environment or community shaped your work?
Yes, I have become more attentive to Mexican-American issues and realities. I am very lucky to have been able to call San Antonio home for many years now. This city has so much history interlinked to Mexico since Colonial times, but I am more interested in the links between the 20th century and today. I am fascinated by the fact that Francisco Madero was able to start the Mexican Revolution from San Antonio. There is a wonderful book, Madero in Texas, that I highly recommend. I am inspired by the writing of Jose Vasconcelos who in Ulises Criollo writes about his experience of growing up in Piedras Negras, Coahuila and going to school in Eagle Pass, Texas and how and why the American side was more prosperous. As a border girl myself, but from the State of Sonora, I relate to these reflections. Vasconcelos also wrote, back in 1925, The Cosmic Race and discussed the “bronze race” as the future aesthetic source. Here we are, almost 100 years later and this is becoming a reality because demographics have changed.
What (or who) have you looked to for strength and inspiration in these uncertain times?
I am very moved by my artists and how proactive and community-driven they are and have been. I am very inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and I think about the Latino experience in this country and how they have endured and worked hard for their rights. As a historian, I have gone back to read about the relationship between the Rev. Martin Luther King and César Chávez and their points of convergence. It was wonderful to do research on César Martínez’s works of art, for his solo presentation at the Frieze art fair, and refresh my memory about the Mexican-American struggles and early days of the Chicano movement. I am very inspired by this movement. While I was doing my Ph.D. at UT Austin, I took seminars with scholar Dr. José Limón on Mexican-American Studies and that was a big eye-opener for me because I was born and raised in Mexico and the history of Mexican-Americans is not taught there and not even in this country for the most part. So, a big yes, I am inspired by the resilience of Mexican-Americans.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hopes are that this pandemic will produce a different mindset of acceptance and of moving forward. I do not want issues to stay the same as in the past. I am hopeful that the Black Lives Matter movement will continue to further conversation on issues of equality for all.