As the daughter of two Mexican immigrants born in America, I depict their plight and that of many people in my community with my art. I want to expose the heartbreaking pain that the family of a Mexican immigrant is going through. I focus on bringing my family's world into the light and out of the shadows. My paintings are best described as visual comments on the daily hidden reality of the Mexican-American experience. These portraits and still lifes show my family in their real environment and show how I live in two worlds. My paintings layer American culture on top of the Mexican world. I feel that society should be aware of the humanity on the other side of the door.
The two most important people in my life, my parents, are the two people who inspired me to develop such a strong concept. When my parents pose for these paintings, their faces contort into very raw, vulnerable expressions. Unfortunately, they try to be invisible every day. Unfortunately, they try to be invisible every day. They don't have to pretend to portray the invisible. They have dealt with rejection, suspicion, and constant fear so much that it seems to come naturally to them now. I try to show a way of expressing them that gives a feeling of exhaustion and quiet acceptance of the concept. It seems to show that underneath all the politicking and underserved labels this society receives, there are normal people, just like the rest of us. According to the long-standing tradition of immigrants who come to America, they make a home here and just try to live a simple life with some security and hope for their children.
By Criselda Vasquez
Oil on canvas: "New American Gothic"