My early memories of art took place in the agricultural fields of California’s central valley, where I learned the power of humble materials from my mother, sisters and other migrant camp women. Women in these communities made quilts out of “throw away” materials like burlap and cotton feed sacks. The quilts were not art but an everyday necessity; while visually stunning, these objects were primarily practical. Many of these women also crochet and knitted small carpets or doilies, that could be made three-dimensional by drenching them with a solution of flour or sugar and then molding the doilies over an item such as a vase. As the solution dried, the doily took the shape of the object.
Like the vases of my childhood, El Rojo, modeled after a 1963 Ford, refers to a pivotal corrido(folk song) and the popular 1976 naco film titled La banda del carro rojo (The Red Car Gang). Using my mother’s method, I pieced recycled burlap to form this work. The Ford, an “all American” symbol, was perceived by many of us as an entry into a better life. Even if we could not escape the realities of an “invisible existence,” we could symbolically own a piece of the “American Dream.”
Commissioned by ZER01 for the 3rd 01SJ Biennial, and presented with the support of the James Irvine Foundation.