Xilam Balam (b. San Antonio, Texas) is an emerging interdisciplinary contemporary visual artist and music producer whose work is a fusion of Pre-columbian Indigenous art forms and contemporary hip-hop and graphic arts. He is a 2018 Mcknight Ceramics Fellow. He works in a variety of mediums including music, ceramics, painting, screen-printing, stone carving, and epigraphy. Musically, Balam was part of the formative Headshots Crew of Rhymesayers Entertainment, producer of Los Nativos, and continues to produce with Curandero, Lady Xok, and solo projects. His work has been highlighted in Chican@ Hip-Hop Nation: Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje, The Source Magazine, and on TPT MN Original. He has performed across the country and in Mexico, producing, exhibiting, and teaching locally. Balam is a co-founder of Electric Machete Studios, a Latinx art & music collective, print house, and gallery located in West Side St. Paul with whom he teaches ceramics and screen-printing.
MN Artist Page | http://www.mnartists.org/xilam-balam
The interdisciplinary nature of my ceramic work is natural, intentional, and follows in the tradition of my ancestors who always prioritized both function and stylized form for ceremonial purposes where music was essential. As a painter and ceramicist working within the Chicano Latinx movement, my role as an artist and culture bearer is to carry these traditions forward in a contemporary context for a mixed-influenced audience so that my pieces and the traditions they represent can be living objects and not just museum pieces. According to Mexica and Maya traditions, each ceramic instrument style has its own energy and each symbol adorning it also influences its energetic musical frequency. Studying both the sound as well as the technique of each piece, I have plans to push the boundaries of what has been done for this field. I strive for perfection of technique and mastery of craft.