Galeria de la Raza
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Exhibition: "Home After Dark"
6/18/2011 - 9/17/2011 | 7:30 pm

Curated by John Jota Leaños and Carolina Ponce de León - featuring the works of Natalia Anciso, Marylene Camacho, Eduardo Gomez, Roberto Gomez, Crystal Gonzalez, Alex Hernandez, Monique Lopez, Bruna Massadas, Senalka McDonald, Neil Rivas, Abel Rodriguez, and Maria Guadalupe Torres

  Galería Exhibitions The Royal Chicano Air Force touches down <2011>
La Llorona Unfabled: Stories to (Re)tell To Little Girls <2011>
Digital Mural Project: Ana Teresa Fernandez <2011>
Mural Project: Jesse Hernandez & Victor Quiñones <2011>
Exhibition: "Cultura & Old School Ways" <2011>
Jot@s, Studs, Fa'afafines, and Homothugs to the 2nd Spirit <2011>
Digital Mural Project: Neil Rivas <2011>
Exhibition: "Home After Dark" <2011>
Exhibition: Studio 24 - "Losing Count - Cuentas Perdidas" <2011>
Exhibition: "Crude Reflections/Cruda Realidad" <2011>
Digital Mural Project: City Studio <2011>
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Curated By: John Jota Leaños and Carolina Ponce

Galería de la Raza is proud to present "Home After Dark: Recent Works by Emerging Latino Artists." The exhibition features work in all media — drawing, video, animation, photography, and installation — by a young group of promising artists who are showing their work at the Galería for the first time. Although “Home After Dark” is not a thematic exhibition, many of the works seem to explore the contradictory relationships between private and public space, personal experience and current events, and utilize delicate, domestic or artisanal practices, like sowing, cutting, and embroidery, while referencing disturbing realities. The exhibition title alludes to those relationships, contrasts, tensions, and negotiations.

Artist Statements

Natalia Anciso creates art predicated on realities and legends of her upbringing.  Her works are visual records of family, community, and border culture along her native Rio Grande.  These Borderlands are currently ravaged by poverty, human trafficking, and the escalating Mexican Drug War.  The Rio Grande cuts one land and people in two, like a wound, bleeding a legacy of pain, tears, and struggle that have beset the area for generations.  Anciso’s family has resided in this geographic territory for four generations.

Anciso researches vernacular arts like paño arte, handkerchief art believed to have emerged from Chicano prisoners in the 1940s, and the huipil, embroidered Mayan textiles worn by indigenous women in Southern and Central America.  These art forms are reconfigured to tell contemporary stories of life along the Texas/Mexico border.  Juxtaposing beautifully colored, watercolor-drawn images of flowers indigenous to Texas against stark, monochromatic media images, meticulously rendered in pen, offers the beauty of home against grisly depictions of the Mexican Drug War. Using these tools on domestic textiles such as handkerchiefs, pillowcases, and bed sheets, Anciso's work examines psycho-political struggles of life along La Frontera.

- Natalia Anciso


War, a subject that consumes history, has been a focus of my practice for almost three years. The United States is now entering its 10th year of conflict in Afghanistan, making this war the longest war in American history. Yet, despite its sheer length, this war continues to have abstract qualities in terms of both awareness and ignorance in the public eye. The majority of the public has some knowledge of our current war but rarely considers what really is happening on the other side of the world. Day after day, both soldiers and civilians, including men and women, have perished with only the slightest recognition from the American public.

My work is a result of my own reflections of war. I started to reconsider my thoughts of this issue after viewing photographs taken by a friend who served as a medic in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My goal is to create a moment during which my work generates questions and prompts self-reflection regarding issues of war. As an abstract condition in contemporary life, war lends itself to be viewed in multiple ways, because everyone looks at this issue differently. I believe that wars, past and present, have a strange rippling effect that continues to be felt for decades, and sometime centuries, to follow.

- Marylene Camacho


In Toro Confleis, the relationship between migrant worker, American icon, and commodity is captured by the portrayal of Fernando Valenzuela on “America’s Favorite Cereal”-Corn Flakes. Valenzuela, who was born in Etchohuaquila, Sonora, Mexico, became an instant media icon with his flamboyant delivery, devastating screwball and quickly became a fan favorite of the Latino community surrounding Chavez Ravine in the early 1980’s. In addition, the popularity surrounding Valenzuela came to be known as “Fernandomania” and eventually resonated through ballparks and households nationwide.

Throughout the years Major League Baseball has used “manias” in order to create a “buzz” or “frenzy” which, in turn, allows a major league club to exploit the player and community with the same ethnic background. The Los Angeles Dodgers have historically been the pioneers of this tradition beginning with Jackie Robinson and the African-American community of Brooklyn. Additionally, “Fernandomania” allowed the Dodgers to heavily promote Fernando Valenzuela in order to capitalize on the large Mexican community surrounding Dodger Stadium; while “Nomomania” was aimed toward Hideo Nomo and the Japanese community.

Toro Confleis captures “Fernandomania” at its peak and exemplifies how both Major League Baseball and Kellogg’s strategically brought “Fernandomania” into a domestic setting in order to capitalize on the popularity of a foreign-born “superstar”. Furthermore, the childlike or “naïve” quality of the piece is intended to demonstrate Valenzuela’s “quirky” and “innocent” personality that Major League Baseball hoped to project on Americans in order to successfully promote him.

-Eduardo Gomez


Ten hands take ten lives in Ciudad Juarez every day. Every Sunday afternoon, however, ten women gather on a community-laid concrete court to play a game of basketball. It is not an overt act of defiance to the American and Mexican social pressures that make the border city the most violent in the world, but an act of competitive poetry. This installation celebrates one example of the resilience of the 1.2 million  people living in the crucible of the Mexican- American drug economy: the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.

-Roberto Gomez


The concepts of prohibitions and how it reads in the contemporary world is the basis behind my work. Averaging six feet in size, each painting represents a “sin” embodied as a figure. They interact in a chaotic landscape corresponding to our own customs and cultures. Across the world various laws in modern society run parallel to their region’s dominant religion, but this is coupled with popular culture and politics that persuade and promote conflictions between what are taboos and norms to the individual and his own desires. Using a graphic/cartoon style as a means of personal and cultural reference, I explore social conflict and ethical quandaries. If the elements of transgression (sins) were read as something more than just a word associated to be “bad”, we could learn more about cultural mores. We could observe how it influences our personal conduct and hinders our understandings between people and places. My work questions whether these imposed rules/actions are actually beneficial or destructive to ourselves and those around us.

- Crystal Gonzalez

Juchitán de Zaragoza in Oaxaca, Mexico has been called a queer paradise. It is a place where men, women and anything in between have roles in society. I am interested how the Muxes, queer people, keep Zapotec customs alive through craft.

Using the Muxes model I have been making tactile work mixing old traditions with new to talk about the other side of Latin America that is still driven by a colonized and macho way of thinking.

Recently I have been exploring the spaces where family secrets live. At times these mysteries are visible, sometimes obscured, other times completely hidden. Through embroidery, textiles, and performance I play with the secrets of my family, strangers and even my own with campy theatrics eliciting nervous laughter of coping.

-Alex Hernandez



I am intrigued by the word Epidemic because it is a noun and an adjective; it is a thing and an object.  The things I make require a host—a wall, an environment; to be attached to or a part of something—an object.  I infect objects, controlling their placement and documenting their presence in various arrangements within a room.  The intent is for the viewer to encounter the interruption becoming implicated because there are no referents of what this could possibly be or the cause of the “epidemic.”  My experiment is to go through the procedure of bringing the effects of dis-ease to the surface.

- Monique Lopez


All My Homes is a digital collage of all homes Massadas has even lived. Although the work was created with the depictions of these spaces, the work captures a sense of non-space and dislocation. All My Homes--a construction of a composition out of many—strongly relates to David Hockney’s photographic collages in the 1980s—because both works question what the definition of composition and space. All My Homes is a puzzling image where the images interpenetrate one another to create the shallow ambiguous space.

- Bruna Massadas


I am drawn to spaces within the home. Rather than being a physical place, what is presented in my work is an internal home-space within the mind. I create performance-based pieces using video and photography to explore complex personal states, giving testimony to the internal home-space as a site of sex, stigma and shame. 

The tension between the private and public worlds cause the need for performances based on roles and gestures we have practiced since infancy. These minute, everyday performances are where my current photographs continue the themes of my earlier textile works, at the intersection of identity, voice and the impact of performative gesture. Exposure is at the crux of what I am exploring with this series. Using familiar language as well as movement, I divulge intimate details and emotions. Though personal, the use of multiple figures and generic statements cause me to lose my identity within the work. My aim with the disclosure is to cause the viewer to feel exposed, enforcing a circular gaze involving me looking at the viewer, looking at me, looking at myself.

I am currently searching for a location in the work where my personal narrative is fictionalized within the performance. Where am I speaking truth, and how does this work on the spectator? What will the observer’s immediate response be, and how will it change over time?

- Senalka McDonald


My art practice is composite and cosmopolitan; I furnish my artistic identity with compound possibilities in bimodal media: my photography and photo-based mixed media projects. Photography is my foundation and often serves as the starting point for what follows, as I delve into the set of processes that constitute my art practice. Both, photography’s traditional and non-traditional forms are usually the common denominator between my work. Through visual framing and juxtapositional techniques, and incorporation of mixed media, I supply myself with the ingredients for critically revisiting the ephemeral encounters that I capture through the lens. Agit-prop strategies, the art and ritual of retracing events, the incorporation of extra sensorial experiences, finding new forms of protest, building new modes of cultural activism: are all elements that I commonly employ in flux, in my pursuit to evolve creative potential and furthering my reach into impacting the human condition. As such, my deliberations on my process help me to facilitate testimony and engage in re-visitation, a modus operandi for increasing visual perception leading to social awareness.

-Neil Rivas


Constructive efforts become erasures of historical occurrences where the outcome has resulted in the deterritorialization and collapse of parallel histories.  These zones of disequilibrium become excavation sites where the manipulation of narratives, are up for scrutiny.  Colonization broke the reflected image that was once used for divination and the prediction of the future into shards.  The ruins of the past restructure themselves by delineating a passage that acts as a point of slippage: oscillating in and out of form producing afterimages of the impact.  The reoccurring image triggers memories that are migratory, unstable and in constant flux. The fragments compose a text that seeks meaning in that which is no longer purposeful.  The conditional and situational placement of these materials within the architectural container reshuffles their value, function and origin, reclaiming them as building blocks for the production of a collective bricolage of reality.

-Abel Rodriguez


Influenced by traditional storytelling, my work retells folk, historical and personal stories and fables primarily influenced by my Mexican-American culture(s). As product of a bi-culture, growing up in the United States meant displacement. My practice recounts these stories while allowing me to place myself in the middle of both culture and create a space for dialogue and investigation.

Throughout my education, I found it a journey to obtain information regarding my ancestry. What I was able to learn are only fragments of a lost culture. Excavation (2010) mirrors this journey as well as our knowledge of Latin-American history. Through Excavation, I call forth the remains of the all-powerful Quetzalcoatl (or Kukulcan in Mayan). Using a more graphic line enables me to use the language of the streets, acting as a bridge between ancient and new generations.

Language, represented through semiotics, also exists in that grey area. Consider the vernacular known as Spanglish, a language that was born in Spanish-speaking communities in an English-speaking country. Spanglish is a direct product of a bi-culture and only exists in that space. With that in mind, I became interested in hand gestures that, without sound, are signifiers that mean the same in both languages. Hola and Shaking Dice (2011), animated from drawings cut out of an old Spanish-English dictionary, do just that while toying with the actual language.

The print on these drawings are words and definitions of both languages, the signifiers and signified, yet the animated gesture are far removed from these definitions.

Some people believe all stories have an end. This is not true. A good story never gets old; it grows and adapts with the times. Through my work, I hope to create a discourse, which in turn will make the viewer proceed in continuing the traditions of storytelling.

-Maria Torres


Opening reception

Saturday, June 18

7:30pm - 10pm in main gallery space

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Galería de la Raza is generously supported by the following organizations: The California Arts Council, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund, San Francisco Arts Commission, Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA), San Francisco Foundation, NALAC Fund for the Arts/Nescafé Clásico, Walter & Elise Haas Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Fleishhacker Foundation, Zellerbach Foundation, The Adobe Foundation/ Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Union Bank Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and Galería members.