Rebecca Gonzales: What We Leave / What We Take

In Crear Studio’s gallery, June 3rd-August 5th, 2023, they are scheduled to feature their first visiting artist in a site-specific paper-made installation titled What We Leave / What we Take. Rebecca Gonzales is an experimental, multimedia artist inspired by poetry and bookbinding practices. What We Leave / What We Take is more than a paper installation, it provides a confessional experience. Gonzales is building a confessional booth on-site from wood and cloth, while also adding her poetry on demand as a social practice to produce recollections for participants.

“I want the viewer to remember joys and release pains. They are invited to sit with me in the confessional,” explains Rebecca Gonzales. “I’ll ask them. ‘What is it’? and ‘Where did you put it’? Then, I’ll produce a poem instead of a penance, as a way to mend together.”

Inspired by the trauma work of Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score and Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands, Gonzales draws from her own life experiences and grief to put herself back together into a life-size body structure carrying her written joys, traumatic memories, and familial histories. The paper- based mannequin is sewn and held together with coarse twine and strands of string. The materials are crude, disheveled, and unfinished; they are reflections of the state of a body in process.

“Those who know my life, recognize my mother’s image. Those who are seeing it for the first time, see the pain in her face,” shares Gonzales. “And maybe some see a saint. The internal conflict that I see in her, and society, forces me to reflect. All of us need to release our emotions to be able to move forward.”

Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Gonzales is a multimedia artist, poet, book binder, and mother. Her writing has been published in various publications such as the Mas Tequila Review and St. Sucia. She was the March 2014 winner of “The Poets of New York” series at the Bowery in New York City and exhibited handcrafted books in the collaborative installation A Book’s Journey at Golden West College in 2019. She has been a social worker throughout Los Angeles, working with transient people, women in shelters and domestic violence survivors. As an artist, she has kept to sharing her own experiences rather than those she advocates for daily, however she admits she sees herself in the communities she serves.

“Rebecca Gonzales is an unapologetic poet, talented book binder, and now an established experimental artist using her own emotions to create an alternative release for others,” says Sarah Rafael García, Crear Studio founder. “Her use of paper as a structure and emotional release through confessional poetry juxtaposes what is documented and distorted with spirituality and abrasive realities that many in society live.”

Gonzales’ site-specific exhibition, What We Leave / What We Take, opens June 3rd. The artist will offer confessional hours throughout the nine-weeks during open hours at the gallery. Crear Studio is a space for the community to honor underrepresented artists. With these efforts in a county where approximately 60% of the population is people of color, García continues to challenge local, white-led institutions and museums to invest in local artists of color as well as arts administrators of color to lead in the region. Crear Studio, founded in 2017, is an extension of the LibroMobile Arts Cooperative (LMAC) and a free interdisciplinary art + comunidad + gallery hosted by local BIPOC artists, curators, and art educators in Santa Ana.

The exhibition will be available in-person and virtually and free and open to the public, supported in part by the California Arts Council. For those interested in hearing directly from Rebecca Gonzales, on June 17th at 3:00p.m. the public is invited to partake in an Artist Talk which includes a Confessional Poetry Reception from 12-4pm.

Rebecca Gonzales, What We Leave / What We Take
Rebecca Gonzales, What We Leave / What We Take @ Crear Studio 6/3/23 – 8/5/23

WHEN: Saturday, June 3, 2023, to Saturday, August 5, 2023.
TIME: Open hours during exhibition dates: Thursdays & Fridays 4-8pm, Saturdays 12-4pm, 1st Saturday Art Walk 6-10pm. By appointment all other days & times

*Please note: On June 3rd, July 1st and August 5th the exhibit will be open from 6-10pm. All programming will also be available virtually, follow Crear Studio on Instagram to learn more: @crearstudio

WHERE: 222 W. 5th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701

More About LMAC

Established in 2016 in Santa Ana, LibroMobile Arts Cooperative (LMAC) is a community-based collaboration between a mobile bookstore and cultural center practices. It builds on anti-gentrification movement culture and cultivates diversity through literature and the arts by prioritizing Black, Indigenous, people of color and integrating free reading and writing programs, visual exhibits, and year- round creative workshops in Santa Ana, California, and its surrounding areas. For more information visit,

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