A codex, which comes from the Latin caudex for “trunk of a tree” or “block of wood,” is a book constructed of hand-written contents. The codex was brought to Latin America during the colonial period and was seen as a hybrid text: Indigenous communities adopted the format and included imagery that was distinctly local. These texts illuminate the aesthetics of these communities and their position within systems of power.
The Collaborative Codices show opened on September 22, 2017 featuring the work of NSCDS Art Teachers Rita Crocker Obelleiro and Montserrat Alsina. Each artist reflects on their connection with the Latinx community and ways that art and performance empower Chicago-area youth. The gallery was set up in the format of a codex, whose binding is made of transitional colors that range from synthetic fuscia to earthy raw umber.
The first works shown were excerpts from Rita’s thesis action research titled “Sites of Inexclusion: Co-creating Visual Narratives about Cultural Belonging/Exclusion with Elementary School Students,” published by the Department of Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Spring of 2016 with the assistance of Jerry Stefl, Andrea Siegler, Nicole Marroquin and Sara Ross.
Montserrat used her walls as pages, showcasing her extensive experience working with Chicago youth. Alongside documentation of murals and other community-based art projects, were images and research materials drawn from her Aztec dance tradition. Her own work informs the work of her students as both student and artist-teacher connect through material explorations.