Still Playing With Fire

November 4th –
November 18th

Artist Statement

Still Playing With Fire is a multidisciplinary, lens based exhibition from Las Cruces artist, Marcus Xavier Chormicle. The project addresses legacies of image making in relation to cycles of trauma, violence, forgiveness and self determination. By photographing his own family, abstracting their images through, patterning, beading, collaging, and video, in collaboration with various other artists, Marcus asserts his own family members into the cultural and historical cannons of New Mexico and draws lines between narratives of violence perpetrated by and against his family. From the preservation of the Fort Selden site as a symbol genocide against Indigenous people, to the death of his grandfather, an enrolled Agua Caliente Cahuilla man, following his shooting while in police custody, through the murder of his uncle, and the overdose of his younger cousin. The act of image making serves to functionally highlight and perpetuate this violence by cementing the moments in time as art work and as artifacts of an ongoing war of attrition.

Still Playing With Fire also addresses legacies of image making by incorporating archival family photographs which provide context for Marcus’ own practice, while providing opportunities of self representation for the subjects of his work.

The show aims to indict the viewers, subject and artists as participants in violent systems that maintain the status quo in New Mexico, some as victims and perpetrators of abuse and self fulfilling prophecies, others as beneficiaries of centuries of slaughter, theft and exploitation of the original inhabitants of the region.

Through photography Marcus clings to fading moments of both joy and pain. Some of the people in the images have since died, some have been forever changed. Celebration and good days still lay ahead but a deep mourning over what has passed is prominent in the photographs. Forever frozen in time the images serve as a memorial for both living and dead relatives. The repetition of subjects, intergenerational resemblance, the similarity of circumstances between events taking place over time, and the spiral motifs reinforce the idea that we are all still playing with fire.

Marcus Chormicle, 2022

Marcus Xavier Chormicle is a lens-based artist from the Southwestern region of the USA. His work focuses on family, memory, and the intersection of class, race, and history in the Southwest. He received a Bachelors of Journalism from the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, Phoenix.

He recently returned home to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to work as an artist and focus on community engagement and education. In 2021 he founded the CAV Gallery (Cristian Anthony Vallejo Memorial Gallery) an art space in downtown Las Cruces. On Sep 3, 2021 he curated the inaugural group show, titled “Tú Eres Tú” which brought together a group of predominantly Indigenous and Latinx artists around cyclical narratives within family units. The show fell on the one year anniversary of the death of Marcus’ little cousin Cristian, after whom the gallery is named, as well as the two year anniversary of the murder of his uncle Punky.

Marcus’ work aims to hold space for his heritage as an Agua Caliente Cahuilla (unenrolled) and Chicano man, as well as his own family and assert their inherent value through art. This goal was furthered through the gallery by maintaining a physical space of reverence for them and others who choose to participate.