As an immigrant, I often get asked about my nationality because of my accent and physical appearance. Perhaps this should not be relevant anymore in a city with such a highly diversified population as Los Angeles. However, the American perception of “Mexican” is oftentimes wrong. For instance, we are not all undocumented, even though this is often assumed. Not all Spanish speakers are Mexican, Spanish is spoken in many countries. Therefore, my latest art pieces have been focused on those who have been alienated at work and in society due to these, and other, assumptions. My last art pieces break through the prejudices, labels, tags, and stereotypes to acknowledge these human beings, their existence, and their hard work. It is a fact that it is through their hard toil that they have also made this nation a great nation. It is through our hard work; natural born citizens, new immigrants, and undocumented people, that we have made this country of ours the place where people from around the world can come and freely pursue the “American Dream”.
Invisible Hands: Eleven Million is a project I have been working as a Master’s of Art student at CSUN. I divided the body of work into three series; paintings, drawings, and time-lapse videos. The project in general elevates and commemorates undocumented immigrants living in Los Angeles and the majority of them are DACA recipients. The portraits are made in various media, including oil on canvas, charcoal on paper, and digital drawings. In the process of each piece, I meet with my prospective subject in their favorite spot or coffee shop. I make them feel comfortable, and we talk while I am studying their facial features by drawing them on my iPad Pro. When I finish the drawn study, we start our interview.
The portraits are painted in monochromatic gray scale, putting the subjects in limbo. In my work, gray serves as an unemotional, neutral, indecisive, color that depicts isolation. As most of us know, undocumented people often times are isolated, threatened, and segregated due to their immigration status. On the other hand, the lack of color is used to break up the barriers that our society faces in respect to racial issues. Not giving color to my portraits makes it easy to avoid labeling, stereotyping, or categorizing them into a specific ethnicity.
The drawings on paper are dedicated exclusively to DACA recipients. The drawings are intentionally erased and unfinished in some areas to reflect their uncertain present and future.
The multimedia (digital) time-lapse drawings are also dedicated to DACA students. The videos show the process of a portrait, the finished drawing, then the drawing fading out. During the process of the drawing, the audio is the story of the subject, as recounted in our interview. The videos are a metaphoric reflection about how immigrants and DACA recipients have been threatened in our society.
In total, my work is about representation, primarily of people who lack visibility.
2018 Master of Arts, Painting, California State University, Northridge. Northridge, CA.
2016 Bachelor of Arts, Painting and Drawing, California State University, Northridge. Northridge, CA.
2013 Associate in Arts, Painting, Porterville College. Porterville, CA.
2018-Present Housing Coordinator, Brilliant Corners, Los Angeles, CA.
2017- 2018 Graduate Assistant, Painting Lab, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA.
2017 Volunteer, Coach and Art, Los Angeles, CA.
2016-2018 Treasurer, CSUN Painting Guild,California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA.
2014 Gold’s Gym, Personal Trainer, Simi Valley, CA.
2009-2013 Doctor Salas Office, Medical Clerk, Porterville, CA.
2017 Matador Credit Union Scholarship
2018 Invisible Hands: Eleven Million.TIOH Arts & Culture, Los Angeles, CA.
2017 Invisible Hands: Eleven Million.Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles, CA.
2017 Eleven Million. Sponsored by CSUN Galleries, Matador Credit Union, Art council. CSUN West Gallery, Northridge, CA.
2019 33rdAnnual La Luzapalooza Exhibition, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
2019 LA Open 2019, TAG Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
2018 2018 California Open Exhibition, TAG Gallery. Los Angeles, CA.
2018 Hear Our Voices, Avenue 50 Studio, Los Angeles, CA.
2018 2018 CSUN Graduate Exhibition, CSUN Art Galleries, Northridge, CA.
2017 (Re) Composition: A call and Response Between Artist and Writers. CSUN, West Gallery, Northridge, CA.
2017 CSUN Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition.CSUN Art Galleries Northridge, CA.
2017 Metamorphosis: The Human Stories. Atlantic City, NJ; Dresden, Germany: Gyumri, Armenia; Columbus, OH; Beaumont, TX.
2016 Brand 44 Works on Paper.Brand Library Art Galleries. Glendale, CA.
2016 Incoming Graduate Student Exhibition. CSUN Shed Gallery, Northridge, CA.
2015 Juried Art Exhibition the LGBT Show.Linus Gallery, Pasadena, CA.
2015 Meet the Guild. CSUN West Gallery. Northridge, CA.
2013 Porterville College Student Art Exhibition. Porterville College, Porterville, CA.
2018 Working Progress. USU Student Art Collection, CSUN, Northridge, CA.
2017 CSUN We Rice Mural: Spring semester collaboration with classmates working on Mural. Northridge, CA.
Martinez Christine, “Graduate Student Gives a Voice to Undocumented Students through Artwork,” The Sundial, August 24, 2017.
Barajas Julia, “Artista Mexicana Destaca Experiencias De Los 11 Millones De Indocumentados En EEUU,” La Opinión,August 25, 2017.