Ruby Chacon’s art tells stories
Utah Chicana's paintings on exhibit at the library
Kate Mapp says the library is where people go to find stories.
She often sees visitors at Park City Library peruse bookshelves in hopes of finding an interesting narrative or account. Sometimes people find what their searching for in the form of a book. Other times, their interest is piqued when they hear an audio chapter or read a magazine.
Mapp, the Park City Library’s adult services librarian, said one story library patrons are discovering is painted by artist Ruby Chacon.
“Her paintings are really vibrant,” Mapp said. “I feel like she captures the eyes really well. It’s almost like her subjects’ glances are trying to tell you something.”
A Utah Chicana who has made it her mission to show a side of culture often brushed over in history books, Chacon paints portraits that show her people’s stories, struggles and triumphs.
Her colorful paintings went on display on the second floor of the library on April 3. Titled “Honoring My Community,” the exhibit will hang till June 4.
Mapp said Chacon sees her story as one made of others’ stories. A series of paintings on display in the library’s reading room are portraits of generations of Mexican-American women. Highlighted by saturated colors painted in the background, the women in the portraits are different ages and from all walks of life.
Some are painted crying, while others are shown smiling. Chacon doesn’t miss the details, either. The portraits include the subjects’ wrinkles, piercings and skin pigment variations.
Mapp’s favorite piece on display is from another series, “Cihuacoatl,” which is on display adjacent to the library’s fiction section.
It’s a painting of a mother and son. Hundreds of circles of different colors create a mosaic of their images, and shown in the background is a pattern of peacock feathers.
Mapp said she not only likes the technique Chacon used for the painting. She also likes its focus.
“I’m the mother of a son, so that’s one reason I like it,” Mapp said. “I also really enjoy the mosaic style and it’s vibrancy. This painting draws you in and lets you know it’s more than a portrait. There’s a story to it.”
Many of Chacon’s paintings hanging at the library are of mothers, but also of daughters and grandmothers. Mapp said Chacon, who now resides in California, will discuss her art’s strong feminine theme at a Women in Leadership event in June. Chacon will also be at an after-hours art reception that day.
Hoping to hold more artists talks and show more art, staff at the library have made it a goal to introduce Parkites to Utah artists such as Chacon. In March, the library had a call for artists. Entries closed April 1 and are currently being reviewed.
“We’re hoping to feature one to two artists every month,” Mapp said.
The adult services librarian feels the library is a more welcoming space when paintings hang on its walls. She also stressed that art’s purpose is more than making a space look nice.
“We want the library to be the community’s living room,” Mapp said. “In your living room, you have artwork and things that make you feel cozy. Not only does art make you feel cozy. It provokes thought, and we want to provoke thought at the library.”
Ruby Chacon’s “Honoring My Community” exhibit will be at the Park City Library until June 4. The colorful portraits are on the second flood. Visit parkcitylibrary.org for information.
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