In my work I
have created implausible imagery that depicts the way a spiritual image transforms
to mirror a culture's mass identity. I have done this by having religious
Latin American icons as an influence in the formulation of the various compositional
schemes, imagery, and forms existing in my work. This influence also serves
as a subject to be portrayed as a surreal response to scenes and events that
exist in both my memory and in my environment. My work is a result of my fascination
with the way the devotional image can intrinsically convey a sense of race,
myth, religion, and history, while incarnating the impassioned face of that
idol’s adopted culture. By developing artwork that incorporates this
influence as a point of reference for my work, I proceed to combine the issues
of pictorial invention with the complex narratives of both singular and cultural
The fusing of the imagination with iconic imagery embodies one of my strongest
concerns, which is to create a metaphor for the struggle between the gathered
and the separate. Ultimately, I find that this contest has no true victors.
Its final prize comes from the fathomless expressions it creates. It is this
condition of life that causes the identity of my work to reflect profound
origins from an experience that has not been completely American, nor wholly
Mexican, thus entirely Chicano. My work is deeply rooted in this experience
and undergoing such occurrences has affirmed my work to conclude a narrative
from the insight of the divided other.
This circumstance has forced me to see the difficult reality of "otherism"
as an opportunity for personal reinvention and create art that is developed
from a combination of a determined force of will and rigorous independent
choice. In a sense being influenced by a collective of many, however speaking
as a voice of one. I have chosen to express this experience by doing works
of art that ultimately depict an ever-changing and thus ever-growing interplay
between the conventions of art, and the conclusions I have made from the issues
that I have chosen to explore. I have done this through the act of working
from theoretical proposition that is brought to bear on one’s desire
Description of Process
My images originate as a succession of multiple inaccuracies. I begin by developing
my portrayals based on a vague visual idea of what I might wish to convey.
I then advance to create a general manipulation of the form and design of
my concept. This process is one best described as pushing from the ill-defined
to escalate toward the precise. The aspects of this working method that are
nonspecific come from an incalculable series of trails and errors. However,
this method of working and reworking carries my work to a realization toward
clarity—thus toward the specific. The awkward beginning of accidents
in my image development is crucial because this forms the structure and foundation
of a finalized piece.
Also, as the semblance of what I wish to convey evolves, the true form and
intent of the image emerges. After a series of humiliating defeats, the decisive
stage of image development may take place. The conclusion of a particular
work comes about as a process of making all the elements of the image unclouded.
There is a point in my work when I strive for a kind of visual eloquence.
There I strive to create the most visually lucid forms I can possibly make.
This is a moment in my work when the last emphatic concept is stated and depicted.
It comes about through rigor and experimentation and it is the point in my
work when I have nothing more to add. The Resurrection, The Meeting, The Fall
of Echoes and The Specter address my interest in developing a series of Chicano
works that emanate from the rigorous building and development of an extensive
vocabulary of electronic formal elements. This process becomes the physical
expression of my internal response to my subject. My work draws its content
from the role that devotional art, myth, and legend have played in allowing
oppressed cultures to cope with the harsh realities of racial inequity. I
have chosen this means of picture making because it reflects my innate resolution
to culture, race, technology, and ultimately life. It reflects the work that
I have done that connects best to the age in which we live.
However, individually these pieces tell of specific issues, which are separate
yet supporting aspects to all the governing narratives of all my work. For
example, The Resurrection is an image that comments upon the theme of transformation.
I have done this piece to portray the act of metamorphosis by way of resurrection.
The practice of change is vital to the Chicano experience. It is an act of
causing oneself to have a new social identity, to reclaim one's history, culture,
and ultimately individual destiny. By having reawakening and transition as
a subject in this work, I can also comment upon the larger themes of Chicano
identity. I do this by extensively incorporating symbols into my work. The
central figure in this image is representative of a timeless means for social
evolution. It is a ritual where one first instigates individual conversion
to be a catalyst for mass societal transformation.
There is a deeply spiritual and elemental power in this act. It was my desire
to capture the depth of this exploit. To his end, the three figures in this
image denote the eternal forces of good, evil, and humanity. The central figure
in this composition is an allegory for rebirth from the churning lifeblood
that falls from both the divine and the unholy. It is my purpose to have the
characters in my work play these metaphorical roles to sequentially unveil
the story I have chosen to tell. My work serves as a series of continuations,
where one piece may be seen in relationship to another. In The Meeting, I
have continued my investigations into the complexities of Chicano identity.
My intention with this image is to have the portrait serve as a window to
the emotional anxieties of the individual. I wish to tap into an older visual
language to comment upon the contemporary issues of racial alienation.
The Chicano experience is for many a process of inner strife. This work is
a portrait of that conflict. I wish to convey how the path to becoming Chicano
can be riddled with the demons of self-doubt pitted against the hopes for
a self-determined face. The Meeting is a representation of an internal rage
that has been masked by a façade of outer calm. In this piece, I have
transfixed a moment of profound inner duality. I wish to have this work delve
into a tempest of the spirit and have the viewer look directly into the two
eyes of that squall. My work has incorporated a way of image formulation that
is devotional in nature. It is a theme that runs throughout my work, and this
interest in iconic imagery is seen best in The Fall of Echoes. This work looks
specifically to the historic paintings of Jesus Christ and the Crucifixion
for inspiration. Survival is the central theme in this work.
It was my wish to capture those sensations of falling into the brutal darkness
of socially sanctioned punishment. This depiction of Christ reflects the contemporary
struggle of Mexican Americans. To express this, my version of Divinity imparts
a defiant tone. He is a figure who has been mutilated and scarred. He gazes
directly into the beckoning black void and does not look away. I wanted this
work to be both harsh and surreal. It was my purpose to have this image of
Christ be an embodiment of the unyielding will to survive, to be a manifestation
of the volition of a culture to walk through a blighted path and not know
the need to fear. Fantastic tales have been a way that the oppressed have
coped with the impact of social and economic tyranny. This version of the
Crucifixion was created to be a door to both the world of dreams and the domain
of bitter truths. I have depicted a messiah as having suffered profoundly,
and yet absolutely and resolutely refusing to lament.
This test of determination speaks of the truism that the Chicano people have
undergone a trial from the impact of colonialism and have survived this test.
An icon that emanates from this harsh truth should have the scars. I have
found that the belief in an ephemeral presence is a source for summoning the
ability of a race to not disappear. The Specter is a work that has as its
main character that aberration of whispers. It is a piece that finds its utterances
from the femme fatale legends of "La Llorona" and "La Lechuza."
However, I wish my work not to directly depict any one folktale. I want instead
to be the creator of unheard legend. It is my method of expressing cultural
identity in art, when that selfhood is ever changing and ever evolving. The
Specter is a dramatizing of a wrathful spirit and the recipient of her justice.
She is the symbol of that need to wound as has been wounded. This is an image
of that final lesson to the uncompassionate, cruel, and bigoted. She is that
phantom who accompanies the dammed to that place of eternal wailing. It is
a work that speaks of the very acrid through the poetry of the sublime. To
conclude, The Resurrection, The Meeting, The Fall of Echoes and The Specter
are works that I have done that comment on the way devotional art, myth, and
legend have granted wronged cultures a means to withstand the severe existence
of racial prejudice. These four pieces are the expression of my revelations
about ethnicity, technology, and existence. These are compositions that I
have completed that identify foremost with the era in which we exist.