In a video performance she shared called “Lix Cua Rahro / Tus tortillas mi amor” — in English, “Your tortillas, my love” — the artist speaks Q’eqchi’while she grinds corn with her mouth to make tortillas. She then shapes and presses the tortillas with a heart stamp and fills them with blood from a wound on her finger.
Parth Shah, a writer and an adjunct professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, attended the lecture and said that performance was one of the most striking takeaways for him.
“I know that this kind of imagery repulses people, and it’s seen as ‘savage,’ but I love the point she made at the end about [how] these are technologies,” he said. “These indigenous practices have their own merits as well, and we in our modern reductionist scientific society will push away these kinds of things as dirty, or as regressive, but to see someone create this performance that’s honoring millennia-old food practices — I found that really rebellious and energizing to see.”
Monterroso links performance with her origins as a Mayan artist, connecting ancient knowledge and culture with contemporary art. She incorporates achiote and Mayan indigo — pigments with spiritual and healing properties — to dye textiles that she uses for her sculptures and sometimes her performances.
One of her recent textile projects, called “Rambo para sonar heridas,” or, “Rhombus to Heal Wounds,” is embroidered with traditional Mayan recetas, or instructions to make remedies for physical and spiritual healing. She drew the text for the remedies from a book that was passed down through her family.
UNC senior Brenda Palacios Rodriguez, who is working on an independent project researching arts in her own Qatanum culture, said she loved how Monterroso visually expressed traditional Q’eqchi and Mayan knowledge and connected it to a holistic ecological system.
“I think that’s so valuable and so important a perspective that many of us should definitely reflect on more and connect to, because at the end of the day, it is all connected,” she said. “And art is a beautiful way of expressing that.”
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