Sandra Cornejo

As a first generation Salvadoran-American, historical collective memory is the prime influence and inspiration for my work. Every face, every voice, and every hand holds a story. Through art one can rediscover what has been repressed and suppressed. My studio practice has evolved within the past few years. I am no longer only bound to traditional oil painting and its practices. I am drawn to compose with objects, sound, video, printmaking and painting that is reliant and complete with the interaction and collaboration of its audience.

There is a thread that runs through myself and post-civil war Salvadoran culture. It is one of internal conflict and deterioration of cultural identity. The struggle, pain and strength inherently running along this thread are what captivated me about this subject. I investigate the historical collective memory of El Salvador through personal experiences and direct observations in my family and community. I was compelled to address specific events during the Salvadoran Civil war that left deep impressions of sorrow, suffering, and denial in the lives of the Salvadoran people.

“La Experiencia de Rufina Amaya” and “Contemplacion” was a pivotal moment in which I realized I was not only making a painting commemorating Rufina Amaya, the sole survivor of El Mozote’s massacre, but I was also tapping into a frequency below culture and identity; a place of the natural condition of being, beauty and pain, the experience of struggling to survive and the strength of perseverance

I realized that the further I investigated and documented this history the more I became aware of how I had blurred the fine line between the personal and the political.

This prevailing conversation correlates to the visual activity occurring in my work. There is a push and pull between a representational approach and abstraction. By becoming more conscious of the area between self and subject, I have gained a new perspective on my approach to painting. And by exploring the area between self and subject, I hope to reveal an honest perspective through my work.