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‘Cadenas de opulencia prodigando a mi reina, mi abuela, reservada y contenta’

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Artist: Jaklin Romine Title: "Chains Of Opulence Lavishing My Queen, My Grandma, Reserved & Content / Cadenas De Opulencia
Jaklin Romine, “Chains Of Opulence Lavishing My Queen, My Grandma, Reserved & Content / Cadenas De Opulencia Prodigando A Mi Reina, Mi Abuela, Reservada Y Contenta,” 2023, digital Sublimation on chiffon,15 gage mirrored steel, silver-coated purse chain, three heart-shaped resin formations, iridescent glitter, sequins, embroidered floral rose gold, pink table cloth, glitter rose gold pink satin.
(Blake Jacobsen)

This story is part of Image issue 22, a meditation on the many definitions of the city’s favorite word: luxury. Read the whole issue here.

The work I created for this issue, “Chains of Opulence Lavishing My Queen, My Grandma, Reserved & Content / Cadenas de Opulencia Prodigando a Mi Reina, Mi Abuela, Reservada y Contenta,” 2023, is a continuation of the work from my solo show last year, “She Breathes in Dirt and Exhales Flowers / Mejor Sola Que Mal Acompa?ada.” The show was a celebration of my grandmother, a celebration of her artistry — her ability to sew, to be a seamstress — in combination with my art, which is photography and the flowers that I gave her over a two-year period.

While creating the show, I had access to outfits that she bought and made. I put the clothes that she made on mannequins, and I filled the mannequins with flowers. When I was making the work for the show — even though I didn’t know I’d have a show at the time — my grandma was still alive. During that year, and after I got the opportunity for the show, my grandma died. And so the work changed in its meaning — it turned into me putting flowers that I gave her while she was alive back into a body that was no longer alive, to give it life.

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Care is a plastic cover on your grandmother’s sofa. It bonds with you on a cellular level — and is hard to peel yourself off.

Oct. 17, 2023

I had different pieces that were in relation to her identity. I had a very large cross made out of steel; I had a very large rosary made that was about 100 feet long. This piece that I made for Image is the other aspect of her personality that she never really got to express but that I’ve been able to express through ownership of my Latinx identity, which she never really did. I had all her names made out of a very thin, mirrored steel. And then I got a purse- and belt-grade chain from a handbag manufacturer hardware store; I used to be a production manager before I was an artist, before I was disabled, so I had all this access to people working with steel, people working with fine jewelry, to make the piece. I got all my grandma’s names made: Gloria, Ernestine, Romine and Hernandez. These are all the names she had throughout her life.

Artist: Jaklin Romine Title: "Chains Of Opulence Lavishing My Queen, My Grandma, Reserved & Content / Cadenas De Opulencia
Jaklin Romine, “Chains Of Opulence Lavishing My Queen, My Grandma, Reserved & Content / Cadenas De Opulencia Prodigando A Mi Reina, Mi Abuela, Reservada Y Contenta,” 2023.
(Blake Jacobsen)

My grandmother was a child of the Depression and had very hard times when she was young. She had the opportunity to access thrift stores and discount stores, but she never wanted to buy those things and wear them because she thought that she if she did, somebody would be able to tell that she didn’t have money. But even though she didn’t have money, she was able to have enough income to buy magazines, so she could look at the best fashions. And even though she couldn’t afford the best fashions, she would then go to the fabric stores and buy patterns that were emulating the high fashion of the time. She would make her own clothes so that nobody would be able to tell that she didn’t have much money and so she could look like she was fancier. She always wanted to look her best; in doing so, she tried to make clothes from a higher-class level.

At this age, I understand Jody’s mom in “Baby Boy.” Luxury is sitting in the garden with a cigarette and just giving exhale.

Oct. 16, 2023

Luxury plays into this piece in the draping of the nameplates over a photograph of fabric on fabric, glistening and shining. All the materials I use are emulating the accents of luxury. Like my grandma, I guess you would have to say that I tried to use the least expensive materials that get the best point across. Because when I shop for fabric, I shop for it downtown in the discount area, stuff that’s used for parties. But when I have to acquire metal or steel, I have to actually put money into it and work with a designer and then also work with people who laser-cut and print. Luxury is emulating through the materials. I’m adding a layer of luxury that my grandmother wouldn’t afford herself. She would never have gotten her name put on a nameplate. I wanted to do that for her.

Jaklin M. Romine was born in Burbank and raised in East L.A./San Gabriel and received her master’s from CalArts in 2017. In 2022 she had a solo show, “She Breathes in Dirt and Exhales Flowers/Mejor Sola Que Mal Acompa?ada” at Rio Hondo Art Gallery in Whittier.

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