A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Q&A with Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

Beatriz Santiago Munoz

by Raksha Thakur (MA 2019)

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (MFA 1997) is a film and video artist who addresses materiality with an empathic humanity. Her work explores language, modes of thinking, and ethnography within Caribbean culture and Puerto Rico. Her art was included in the Whitney Biennial 2017 and has been featured in ArtSlant, BOMB, and Art in America. The Sullivan Galleries will feature her work as part of an upcoming group exhibition this fall.

Could you talk about the upcoming exhibition at the Sullivan Galleries?

It’s a traveling show in collaboration with other institutions originally curated by Bill Kelly. A new piece is added in each of the places that it’s going to.

What is your work for the show about?

My work focuses on a safe house that may or may not have been shared by different political groups. According the FBI, many including Black Liberation Army members and a Puerto Rican, anti-colonial, armed, clandestine movement the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, (FALN) used it.

How would you describe your process?

I start with somebody who I want to pay attention to. I usually work with non-actors, and we make things up together, and there are surprising things that happen within the process.

Why did you choose SAIC for your MFA?

I had graduated from the University of Chicago. I wanted to be around other artists and I needed to stay in Chicago longer. At SAIC I had excellent teachers like Lin Hixson and Matthew Goulish. More than writing, or directing, I learned to listen generously. Critiques were crucial.

What advice can you give current students in film?

Make your work without thinking too much about what it means. Because, if you know what it means, why make it? Think with the process and think with the images rather than theoretically. It’s not a theoretical film.