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Grant Recipient

Alex Arrioja

Windgate-Lamar Fellowship


Growing up in a traditional Mexican household, I was raised to believe that men were not meant to be emotional, and any display of emotion was discouraged. While my father expected me to be tough and macho, machismo in Mexican culture, the matriarchs of my family accepted and encouraged the outward expression of my feelings. This rift in understanding who I am, or what I should be, only widened as I got older. Societal ideals of traditional gender roles perpetuated in my family and the community around me serve as a starting point for examining my experiences. Understanding that toxic masculinity exists in many cultures, my work challenges emotional expectations.

Inspired by emotional taboos like depression, regret, grief, and anxiety, I aim to deconstruct and bring resolution to the issues that are often overlooked when we dismiss our human behavior. The intimate nature of jewelry and its physical connection to the body is vital in my work. Recognizable forms, like brass knuckles or handcuffs, become reference for format, as well as the emotional and cultural connection they provide. Expressing the many facets of human emotion, experience, and relationship also comes through my material choices and their qualities. Ideas of masculinity, strength, and even severity are imbued in concrete, while glass and acrylic provide openness and multi-layered meaning. My jewelry functions like a tool for dissecting and understanding the role society’s expectations can have.

Bio of the Artist

Organization Background



University of Texas at El Paso




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