Arts: Visual and Performing

David Guillermo Barba, MFA

Assistant Professor, ECAS, Film AND Media

Volver [Return]: a documentary feature film about returnee migrants to Mexico

Three Mexican women, brought to the United States as children and raised as Americans, struggle to rebuild their lives in Mexico following deportation or voluntary repatriation. This feature documentary film focuses on the lived experiences of Viridiana, Maria and Valentina who grew up in Minnesota, Colorado and Georgia respectively. As young adults, they returned to a country they barely knew, struggling to adapt to language and customs foreign to them. Living in different corners of Mexico, the three women’s journeys have points of connection and divergence, emblematic of the hundreds of thousands of stories of those who depart the United States, leaving family and friends behind.

Viridiana (33) lives in the small rural town of Quebrantadero, Guerrero with her two boys. Maria (32) lives in the suburbs of Mexico City in Zumpango, State of Mexico with her partner Jorge and her pit bull Max. Valentina (38) lives in La Paz, Baja California Sur, with her two children. Viridiana and Maria grew up undocumented in the US, while Valentina was there on a visa. The mothers of all three women live in the United States, as does much of their immediate family. Their English language skills have played a critical part in being able to find steady employment and rebuild their lives.

Julio Medina, Master of Fine Arts

Assistant Professor, ECAS, Dance

Futuristic Dances: Mexican Cosmology in Motion

My project is a series of events showcasing Mexican/Aztec culture and dance in Atlanta. This series would involve a weekend festival during Dia de Los Muertos, a dance concert premiering an evening-length choreography, and a short dance film I choreograph. This project launches a reclaiming of my indigenous identity as I choreograph contemporary or experimental dances based on Mesoamerican mythology and Chicano studies. Often tradition is separate from the modern, but I plan to hold space for communities to co-exist: traditional Aztec and Folklorico alongside contemporary dance.

My choreographic research draws inspiration from scholarship, film, and documentaries, encouraging a reimagining of Mexican identity and colonized history. In studying Chicano scholarship, my identity has shifted. I now perceive myself as native, understanding that my ancestors were indigenous to Mesoamerica pre-Columbus. I have developed a penchant for Aztec cosmology and mythology in reclaiming my indigenous identity; this is the crux of my movement research. I aim to investigate the Aztec pantheon of gods and goddesses, such as Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent) and Coatlicue (earth goddess). Ultimately, my choreography will reflect a spirituality informed by Mexican mythology, centered around an ability to listen to the earth and nature to maintain connectivity to the universe. The nature of the movement research is conceptual, metaphysical, and futuristic. Still, this project will further the artistic discourse and elevate the representation of the latine experience in the United States. The choreographic work and short film will enter national and international festivals for presentation on completion.