Ileana Tejada is a Mexican-American artist born and raised in Southern California. A former NCAA Division II Track and Field athlete, Tejada's work progressively deals with female masculinity and the opposition to "marianismo"-the exaggerated sense of traditional femininity. Tejada received her BFA from California State Polytechnic University- Pomona, as well as a BS (Kinesiology, Pedagogy). In 2015 she graduated with a Masters of Fine Art in Painting from San Francisco Art Institute. Tejada is the recipient of the Murphy Cadogan Graduate Fellowship, the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Painting, and SFAI's Amir Esfahani Graduate Studio Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Gallery CB1 in Los Angeles, and published in New American Paintings, No.123, MFA Annual, 2016. She is currently working and living in San Francisco, CA.
My body contradicts the popular aesthetic of beauty. In today’s society it is still very difficult for women such as myself, those of us who oppose gender conformity, to be validated. This is especially true when one’s body refuses to conform -when the physicality of the body contradicts existing gender and sexual conventions.
Performing through different personas, I affirm hybridity. Rather than male vs. female, child vs. adult, and strong vs. weak, I am man, woman, and child all at once. I overpower men in opposition to the rules that have been set before me. As a woman of color lifting white males, I present a paradoxical image of my identity.
Depictions of myself with a 53-inch teddy bear named Lester assert this ongoing conflict between dominance and vulnerability. Lester is a symbol for both a coping mechanism and an imposing image of danger- soothing and fearsome. His Caucasian fur and scale are physically and psychologically comforting yet he demands fearful respect. We are constantly in opposition; the relationship is codependent.