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  • Writer's pictureMidWestMixed

Atquetzali: Within, Between, & Beyond

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

Within, Between, and Beyond is a multi-layered art installation and participatory experience sharing an evolving archive of stories from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who identify as Mixed Race or Transracial or Transnational Adoptee. Interviews for the video portion of the installation were conducted by Lola Osunkoya, who here introduces our subjects and shares a few highlights from their stories.

Atquetzali is a Mexica/Aztec and Filipinx person who uses they/them pronouns.

Atquetzali has a delightful energy and is the youngest person we interviewed. We met them at their parent’s studio space over the summer, just after they had graduated high school and waiting on word whether they would start college out of state in-person or online. They will be studying education.

I was struck by the amount of self-awareness they had for someone their age, especially as it relates to racial identity. I both admired them and honestly felt a little jealous of their confidence and groundedness! My overarching feeling though was gratitude that young folks today have more access to resources and community to be able to ground into their identities earlier. Still, Atquetzali had some rightful critique about their experiences around identity in the educational system.

I think it would’ve been a lot easier to ground myself in my identity, especially during middle school and high school as a time where you really find yourself and you’re really searching for a lot of those answers. It’s a lot harder to navigate if there’s only one side of the story that’s being told to you. I want to encourage my scholars of the future to be able to be interested and to be able to research their histories and their cultures. Because I truly believe that if everyone learns a little bit more about their cultures and their histories and their people’s histories, then we’ll be able to take a step toward decolonization.

There’s this quote and it goes “N-O no history, and N-O no self and K-N-O-W know history, K-N-O-W self.” And really that quote says it all there. If you don’t know your history, you don’t really know yourself. You need to be able to know who your ancestors were, and what they’ve done to be able to get you where you are today.

I’m so excited for people like Atquetzali to become the educators of tomorrow! They also talked about what it means to have been immersed in cultural traditions of dance as a grounding into identity.

I’m very fortunate to have been raised being able to know my culture, to be immersed in my culture. My parents and my family founded a Mexica/Aztec dance group called Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, and I’ve been doing Mexica/Aztec dancing, my mom likes to say, since I was in the womb. I’ve definitely been able to learn a lot there, not only about myself but other people as well. Part of what ignited my passion to want to teach was being a part of that dance circle and teaching the philosophy, the song, the dances to community members.

When I’m dancing with members in my community, my family, my parents, my siblings, it just feels right.

I’m so excited for you to see their bright, engaging energy in both the video interview and paintings. Join us at Mia! Within, Between, and Beyond runs 7/16/21-10/31/21.

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