I was brought
up in Los Angeles in a bilingual household, Mexican American by birth
but thoroughly anglofied through a Euro-centric educational system. I
was fortunate to have come from an artistic family where personal expression
in the arts was encouraged.
After spending an entire sabbatical leave in Mexico, from my college treaching
position, I realized for the first time the impact of my parents
homeland on my art. I became completely absorbed with the culture and
its people. My painting which had previously been of the cool mountainous
terrain of California became charged with the colors expressive of the
new, exciting topography of Mexico. I found the landscape a metaphor for
the history, the culture and the myths of the ancient past and for the
In recent years I have been working on a series of cactus portraits,
using that plant form as a symbol for the Mexican people and their indestructible
aspects. Colorful and menacing, exuberant and dangerous, the forms mirror
the duality so inherent in the land of Guadalupe and Tlaloc.
In another recent series, references are made to beliefs in Mejica cosmology,
the Popol Vuh and its Mayan creation stories and specifically the journey
of the soul to Mictlan. The journey refers to the mythological passage
taken by the soul to its place of eternal rest, Mictlan. In the work,
the soul, represented by Nopalito and his spirit guide dog Mancha, encounter
the tests that the soul had to endure. Among these works there are references,
probably because I am Angelino, to the social confrontations
that exist in Southern California and to the barriers placed between countries
and people that in the history of the Southwest have been so significant.
The barbed wire, fence, cacti and suggested spirits are indicative of
this ongoing struggle at our borders.
STATEMENT ON THE WORK PROCESS
I begin work on a personal project with much research: travel to sites
near and far, readings into historical and mythological information, personal
photographs, long periods of tending my garden followed by a period of
letting the cocido sit and enrich its flavors of what will
appear. With few, if any, preliminary drawings I begin. The resulting
painting or sculpture is always a compromise between what I originally
had in mind and what the work has told me about itself as I worked.
Solitario came about as I was cleaning my brushes after
working on a large painting of cacti fighting for position against
a fence. Its as if there was one more image that needed to
come out from that brush. It stands upright, bristling with defiance,
against that barbed wire. Its halt is only momentary however, as nature
will outlast the manmade. The will usually conquers its adversities. It
is my Grandmother.
Sun Cactus is one of a series of four sculptures that
connect the cactus form to the Mejica concept of the cardinal points.
The East ruled by Huitzilopochtli, empowered by the sun god, Tonatiuh
and flowing with the color red gives birth to its progeny. On the other
hand, it can also represent a generational family portrait of my family
rooted as were my grandparents in the Mexican earth and then their descendents
as they moved northward and over the border.