Family Fiesta at the Nevada Museum of Art

Artist Justin Favela Discusses His Family Fiesta Performance

June 3, 2017, 1-3 pm

Join us during Free First Saturday for a “Family Fiesta” hosted by artist Justin Favela, whose work Fridalandia is part of Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place. Below, Justin answers 10 questions about "Family Fiesta."

1. What is the "Family Fiesta"?

"Family Fiesta" consists of my family, food, drinks, and music in an outdoor setting. In this performance the public is encouraged to participate in the celebration firsthand by engaging in our games, dances, music, cuisine, and piñata time. In "Family Fiesta" the event is taken out of its traditional context (a cookout in a backyard or a park) to unconventional locations seeking to highlight people’s expectations of a fiesta, and at the same time, dismantling notions of location and institutional inclusion.

2. How did you come up with the idea of a "Family Fiesta"? What was the inspiration?

Years ago, I was asked to come up with a family-oriented workshop for an art museum and started thinking of ways to incorporate piñatas and my culture into a program. I started thinking of the idea of a fiesta and what that meant to people. For some, it might be a fun theme for a party but for me a fiesta means family, friends, ritual, drama, tradition, and much more. So I came up with the idea of a "Family Fiesta," a happening that includes my actual relatives getting together, celebrating each other and anyone that happens to join the party!

3. Where else have you held it?

"Family Fiesta" has been held at the south entrance of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, inside of Michael Heizer's earthwork Double Negative and on the roof of the Nevada Museum of Art.

4. On your site, you call it a performance? How much of what happens is real and how much is theater?

THE WORLD'S A STAGE! It's all real.

5. How does this event challenge preconceptions about Latinos?

I am more interested in challenging people to think about what they are doing when they slap on a fake mustache and a sombrero to celebrate "Cinco de Drinko." I hope to make people think twice before they throw a "Mexican"-themed work party or a "South of the Border" soirée. I hope that people are challenged to remember where they left their receipt so those inflatable "fiesta" maracas can go back to Party City where they belong.

6. What will visitors at the DAM Family Fiesta experience? Are you adapting/changing the event for the DAM?

The experience does change depending on the limitations and expectations of the space we are working with. As long as the weather permits, there will be food, music, and piñata time. Business as usual.

7. Who in your family will participate?

Whoever can get the time off from work and really it depends on the place and how many people I can afford to take with me. This time there will be 18 of my family members joining me, from my 81-year-old grandmother to my 11-year-old cousin.

8. How does your family feel about these events?

My family has grown to love these performances! At first I don't think they understood where I was coming from and what I was trying to do, but now "Family Fiesta" has become their event and not mine; a true family tradition. After our trip to Reno and the Nevada Museum of Art last year, my relatives kept asking me where and when the next "Family Fiesta" would be. When it comes to my work, my family and friends are my audience, so to have a piece that includes them is a really important to me.

9. What do you want visitors to take away from the DAM "Family Fiesta"?

A piece of cake and maybe some candy if they're quick enough.

10. What kinds of visitor responses have you received from other venues?

The responses vary but for the most part people participating in "Family Fiesta" are just excited to party with us and have a seat at the the table.

Photo of "Family Fiesta" at the Nevada Museum of Art by Mikayla Whitmore.

Leticia Salinas is the Latino cultural programs coordinator in the learning and engagement department at the Denver Art Museum. Leticia has been at the DAM since 2016 and her favorite work at the DAM is Made in China.

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