are derived from a vision that came to me as a child. I was raised an American,
one capable of all advantages this country has to offer. My culture was something
that I had to learn myself. It is through that process that my lifes
work became apparent. The history of my family became embattled with the process
of assimilation. I kept a journal of my elders spoken memories. I began
collecting photographs and started a video project. With the encouragement
of a large and supportive family I taught myself how to draw. I continued
this effort for many years. In 1992 I started the paintings that combine everything
that I started as a young boy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This body is an elaborate retelling of one hundred years of my familys
history in what has become our America. Drafted in a style based on religious
iconography, each ancestor is elevated into vivid tableau. Still maintaining
their spiritual dignity, they continue to invoke the lessons of Americanization
for future generations to learn from.
Recently I have begun incorporating my personal history into this body of
work. These paintings address the effects of assimilation on the unwitting
youth. I was all at once an American who was supposed to fight for my Chicano
heritage--this all within the backdrop of the revolution of the 1960s.
I was aware of the intimate history of my ancestors, but learning the truth
of our historic losses became a battle that proves to enlighten even to this
While this creative project is still unfinished I can foresee its completion
nearing. Ideally this work will be displayed all together. I will incorporate
written text, as well as photo and video documentation. One hundred years
of becoming American. A journey taken in order to find ourselves.
These paintings are all based on family photographs dating from the 1890s
through the present. A geometric construct is laid onto the canvas. The photos
are projected directly onto the canvas, and then a line drawing is made. A
fine paint brush line is then painted over the pencil line. Unnatural color
foundations are applied next. Within these brush strokes are the pattern for
the further application of a graduating colors. This effort is applied many
times over, in order to give a chaotic energy to the stiff posturing and often
uncomfortable circumstances surrounding the posed photos. The backgrounds
are built up in a similar fashion. The means is to create an ethereal other
worldliness. Either one photograph is used or a grouping indicating a period
of the subjects lifespan. Sometimes text is used, coinciding with the
title or some personal reference based on the subjects history. This
process is grueling and laboriously time consuming. It is within this artistic
creation that I pay homage to my familys history. It is through this
effort that I have found my personal language.
9 in 69
A self-portrait based on a fourth grade school photo. The inherent turmoil
implodes in the distraught youth.
A painting honoring my grandmother Luz. Her schooling would be six years of
religious education. Her brothers and sister would be sent off to private
education. She stayed on the farm to help with the chores. Her siblings would
become business pioneers. She would die in poverty.
These works on paper are related to when I was a young teenager in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. I turned thirteen in 1974, grew up with war, parents who lived
threw war, like their folks. The sixties came crashing all around, the revolution
withered in agony. We had to look forward to the Bicentennial and Disco. This
series is based on remembrances of the nostalgia of my father and mother.