My formal training as an artist started at the age of twelve when I was enrolled in a free after school art program. During my six years in that program, I participated in the completion of 35 different mural projects, nationally. At eighteen, I applied and was accepted to the California College of Arts and Crafts in the San Francisco Bay Area. I attended for two years, studying graphic design, and was introduced to printmaking by artist Nance O’Banion. I continued to practice printmaking and letterpress through volunteer work at the San Francisco Center for the Book and under the tutelage of Juan Fuentes who was running Mission Gráfica at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco. I moved back to Los Angeles in 2002 where I continued learning printmaking by volunteering at Self Help Graphics & Art. In 2005, I established my own printmaking practice when I acquiring my own press. I completed my first major public art commission, the artwork for Metro’s Expo La Cienega Station, in 2011. In 2014, completed my studies in graphic design and graduated from UCLA’s School of Art and Architecture in the Design Media Arts program (Cum Laude) in 2014. Since then, I’ve moved my printmaking and letterpress studio in Highland Park where I continue my practice today.
My life has been shared between two countries, the United States and Mexico. In Mexico, I’ve experienced the hard rural life of my parents and in Los Angeles, the life of the inner city. I am a person made up from experiences from both of these worlds. I am Mexican but I am also American and I have the privilege of being able to exist in both simultaneously. I am aware of the reality that an ethnic and racial border exists between people and that it is destroying the bond that we have as a human race. Culture does not honor borders. Culture is about change and growth. I feel that it is my responsibility as a printmaker to be a vehicle not only for culture but to also inspire a sensibility of the creative and a weapon for social justice.
Spending summers with my family in the town of El Teúl, I spent many hours listening to my grandparents’ stories. In the United States, my history and the stories of people like me have been largely ignored or blotted out all together. We are told we don’t belong here, that we are alien to this country when nothing could be further from the truth. My grandmother’s stories reminded me of who I am and where I come from. One time she told me something that instilled in me a great anxiety. She said, “For every Indian that dies a whole library is set on fire”.
My work records, through images, these stories and the events that have shaped my life but also touch on the allegorical and universal experiences shared by many. Stories that transform space into place and give meaning to your existence, stories your grandmother tells of guardian angels by bedsides, of the devil dancing on roof tops, stories of hardships past when things seemed dark and uncertain. All these narratives are important and they touch on history as well as on the impact of politics, ecology and unrest in our society. Each piece I make is a voice to memory, an artistic artifact recalling old words that fade with time, a celebration of the survival of a culture and a reflection of the inequity and divisiveness of people as a race.