By María Margarita López
Dreamers were front and center on the October 21 opening night of "South of the Border" at The Loft At Liz’s, a participating gallery with Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Immigration and its aftermath were explored through the eyes of artists representing Los Angeles and Latin America, and the commentary was biting and uncompromising. Works spanned time, space and attitude, ranging from rage to reflection.
Co-curated by Isabel Rojas-Williams and the gallery’s own Liz Gordon, each of the ten featured artists, as well as additional works by Dreamers, pulled from deeply personal experiences.
Los Angeles-based Oscar Magallanes’ United Farm Workers-inspired series, originally created to be displayed during a Cesar Chavez Foundation gala, speaks to the immigrant work experience in the United States, as well as the struggle of what it means to be an American and speak for freedom. Dreamer Adrián Gonzalez Morales’ “Fuck Your Borders” is a photo triptych of images of his family seen through wire mesh at San Diego/Tijuana’s Friendship Park. The exhibit also includes a regal point of view in Mayan-inspired preColumbian paintings by Ecuadorian artist Maja.
Argentine artist Marisa Caichiolo wove herself into her work by using her own hair to embroider silver serving items in her piece, “How Else Can I Serve You?” It is a severe commentary on immigrant exploitation.
Representing El Salvador and the experience of native peoples, Votan’s paintings, “Prelude to the American Dream” juxtapose the same young woman in two forms. In one image she is proud and confident in the rich colors of her native Mayan dress; in the other her radiance is dimmed while wearing an awkward maid’s uniform. The work magnifies what the artist feels: “It is unfortunate…my people give up so much to receive so little.”
It is not just the large institutions participating in the PST:LA/LA initiative that have sweeping statements. The participating galleries have reached for artists with much to say.
"South of the Border" runs through December 4.
ARTIST: Andres Montoya. WORK: “Reflection” SAYS THE ARTIST: “I am a total immigrant. My art speaks... to the current political situation of so many of us and hopefully we can overcome it.” WORK: “Reflection” “A poetic way of looking at the moment when you realize you’re losing someone...and you don’t know - the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to them... and your life is about to change. Which is what happens to all immigrants. When you leave your home town your life changes forever. “ REPRESENTS: Honduras.
ARTIST: Adrián Gonzalez Morales
WORK: Fuck (Part 1 of Fuck Your Borders triptych)
“My mom and dad were deported in 2008. A couple of years ago was the first time I was able to see them when I was able to get Deferred Action. [In my work] I refer to very beautiful moments at an ugly location because you’re creating these memories of time you’re spending with family or friends but it’s the location. You can feel the tension with border patrol checking up on you. It’s hard to see the person on the other side. You’re talking through the fence. What I’m displaying is the same idea. I’m obscuring the artwork through the wire meshing I was able to put in front so you get a small taste of what it’s like to be able to try to admire something.”
"Deportaron a mis padres en el 2008. La primera vez que pude verlos fue hace dos años cuando recibí la Acción Diferida. [En esta obra] me refiero a los bellos momentos vividos en un local feo porque creas bellas memorias de tiempo con tu familia o amistades, pero es el local. Sientes la tensión con la migra que te vigila. Es difícil mirar a la persona al otro lado. Platicas a través de la cerca. Muestro esa misma idea. Oscuro le arte vía el alambre. Lo puse en frente para simular lo que se siente al tratar de admirar algo."
ARTIST: Pablo Cristi
WORK: Ain’t No Future in Yo Frontin (part of a body of work in eRACE series)
“It’s a specific line from this rap song that was done in the late ‘80s by a rapper called MC Breed. There was a specific line in the song that had to do with painting the white house black. The whole lyric was about taking the power back to the people. This was specifically from an Afro-centric perspective which is very empowering for the Black community, but at the time a lot of the Hip Hop songs and the more militant Afro-centric rappers were helping give me language to shape my own identity problems and to be able to sort of wrap language and ideas around the conflict that I was feeling as a Latin American. I am Latin-American, I am Chicano, I am Chilean-American, I am a Californio, I am Los Angeleno, I am American. I exist in a liminal space. This is being American.”
REPRESENTING: Liminal Space
OBRA: No Hay Futuro En Tu Fachada (parte del cuerpo de trabajo en la serie eRACE)
“Es una línea especifica de una canción de rap que salió en los años 80 por un rapero llamado MC Breed. Una línea de la canción tenía que ver con pintar la casa blanca negra. La lírica tenia que ver con regresarle el poder al pueblo. Esto fue específicamente de una perspectiva afro-céntrica, la cual empodera a la comunidad negra. En ese tiempo muchas canciones de hip hop y los raperos militantes, afro-céntricos ayudaron a darme el idioma para expresar mis propios problemas de identidad y lograr formar palabras e ideas al conflicto que sentía al ser latinoamericano. Soy latinoamericano. Soy chicano. Soy chileno americano. Soy californio. Soy los angelíno. Soy americano. Existo en un espacio liminal. Esto es ser americano.
REPRESENTA: Espacio Liminal.
Track more artist profiles by María at mmlcavada
Also at Loft At Liz’s:
PANEL DISCUSSION: "Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream", featuring author Ellen Truax and Dreamers Yunen Bonaparte and Adrián Gonzalez. Wednesday, November 8. 7 - 9 p.m.
JOHAN MIRANDA ALIENATED Standup Comedy Special. Friday, November 17. 7 - 9 p.m.