Daniela Riojas is an interdisciplinary artist from the U.S. - Mexico border and a current Joan-Wich Fellow and MFA Canditate at the University of Houston, TX. She specializes in photography, self-portraiture, performance, film, installation, and music. Her work explores themes of reconnection to indigeneity, ritual, de-colonizing landscapes and the body, bi-cultural identity as it pertains to mestizaje, Native and Jungian spiritual philosophy, and female trauma. She studied English-Creative Writing at The University of San Antonio, TX and also attended the Vermont Studio Center Residency Program in the winter of 2013. She is a Surdna Foundation grant recipient, a former artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center through the Artist Lab Fellowship Program, and was awarded a grant for Media Arts from the Cultural and Creative Development Department of the City of San Antonio through the Artist Foundation in 2015. She is a recipient of the Support for Artists and Creative Individuals grant awarded by the Houston Arts Alliance 2019 for her performance OME, debuting April 2019 at Site Gallery.
Artist Statement I am interdisciplinary artist currently based out of San Antonio, Texas originally from the US-Mexico border. In my creative body of work, I utilize photography, film, performance, installation, and music. Film is an impactful confluence of these various disciplines. As a filmmaker, I focus on documentaries and music videos to present commentary on global, community, and sociopolitical issues as well as the individual psychology that undergoes transformation as we strive for justice. My work inherently proposes a rediscovery of heritage, within the framework of calling for environmental justice and spiritual awareness. My self-portraits recall ancient ritual practices that engage in anachronistic couplings of pre-colonial world concepts and contemporary cultural theory. Throughout my process, my corporeal presence attempts a locative terrestrial engagement for the sake of performance narratives, drawing on historical records of a land and using my body as a canvas to express personal anecdotes and/or socio-political commentary. Using my process of, “individuation through embodiment,” developed through studies in Jungian philosophy, I physically place myself in a mode of abstract worship as a way to connect to indigenous deities, totems, archetypes, and new mythic characters. I capture this process through self-portraiture, performance, installation, and video. The images and performances become vehicles for remnants of a lost spiritual history. Bringing them to the forefront of contemporary art likewise brings along education about pre-colonial mythologies, which can help reconstruct a cohesive and collective consciousness free from the imposition of imperialist dogma.