Analicia Casaus and Dré Gallegos

Analicia Casaus and Dré Gallegos 

Las Vegas, N.M. — Two New Mexico Highlands University media arts graduates will present at the National Organization of Women national conference in Albuquerque June 27 – 29.

Las Vegas native Dré Gallegos and Analicia Casaus of Albuquerque will present two films at the conference, including one exploring the objectification of women in advertising.

The films were part of a class project that involved creating and filming performance art pieces while working closely with Yolanda Domí­nguez, a world-renowned artist and social activist from Spain.

“Every artist wants to evoke a certain response through her work,” Gallegos said. “I started to think more deeply about how I present my pieces visually, because how it is displayed can make or break what the viewer takes away.

“Yolanda Domí­nguez is very inspirational and gave me a different outlook on feminism and women in art. With her performance art, she brings an awareness to social problems in a way that is very thought provoking. Her work is both subtle and powerful. I learned that through performance art, you can have a strong voice for change,” Gallegos said.

The Madrid-based Domí­nguez has gained global recognition for her evocative street art installations aimed at generating social change in issues such as gender, health care, and consumption. Domí­nguez was at Highlands thanks to the university’s Ballen Visiting Scholar Program.

In 2011, Domí­nguez produced an acclaimed street art installation called Poses on the streets of Madrid. The installation featured everyday women performing absurd high-fashion poses.

The media arts class — including Gallegos and Casaus — recreated Dominguez’ performance art piece on the streets of Las Vegas based on poses the class found in fashion magazine ads.

“With Poses, our goal was to demonstrate the outrageous ways women are supposed to look to be considered desirable and pretty,” Gallegos said. “We dressed in normal clothes because we wanted to shed light on the disconnect between normal women and what’s portrayed in fashion ads. Normal women don’t pose in these provocative pretzel-like poses.”

The media arts class also created, directed and filmed its own performance art piece aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of GMOs — genetically modified organisms — in common food, with a focus on healthier alternatives.

Gallegos and Casaus will also present the GMO film the class produced at the conference.

“It’s very exciting to be given this opportunity at the NOW conference to share our journey as performance artists working with Yolanda Domí­nguez,” Casaus said. “She taught us how to direct performance pieces that challenge the audience to question women’s role in society. At the conference, we have the chance to reach out to other young women interested in human rights and women’s issues.”

Casaus and Gallegos, both 27, graduated in May with BFAs in media arts with an emphasis in visual communication.

Media arts professor Megan Jacobs taught the class and collaborated with Domí­nguez. Jacobs will join her students for their presentation.

“This conference gives our students an opportunity to be on a national stage while also seeing the intriguing border between art making and social awareness,” Jacobs said. “Dré and Analicia are both exceptional, articulate students who are visionary in the way they develop ideas, drawing from their own life experience.”

The theme for the NOW conference is Faces of Feminism: Strength in Diversity. Joan Krohn, a Highlands University professor emeritus of social work and longtime NOW member, suggested that the media arts class’ work with Yolanda Domí­nguez be a topic for the conference.