Sometimes, a river or a mountain range will determine the boundary between peoples. Every so often, this borderline is only the ink of a line drawn by a man. My early life was devoted to daily traveling across the U.S. /Mexico border, ensuing from my parents working in Mexico and living in Texas. The substance of the artwork I produce derives from my insight of the Texas/México landscape, where cultures, languages and identities constantly conflict and bind. The southern most part of Texas known as the Rio Grand Valley is famous for its agricultural industry. Today it is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. The area’s population has increased dramatically, mainly because of the North American Free Trade Agreement and most recently the influx of peoples fleeing violence and war.
The rural environment has been converted into an urban landscape, which has affected many aspects of life. Both sides of the border depend on each other for economic stimulation. Americans cross into Mexico for medical care at an affordable price, while Mexican Nationals purchase items not found in Mexico from U.S. shopping centers. Many people have families and jobs on either side of this line and cross the crowded bridges daily many times waiting for hours to reach their destination. Through my art practice I document the ever-changing landscape of the borderlands and beyond.
Artwork has many different languages and I approach my practice knowing that I understand several of these languages. Layers of paint allow me to cover my mark making, while the process of cutting away paint and carving of a wood panel allow me to reclaim and rediscover a personal history. Collaging vellum helps me mute previous layers exposing minimal amounts of information. This information is given to the audience in parts and pieces much like that of an archeological site. Drawing is a language that I associate with printmaking and I print and draw because of the intimate personal nature of this process. Prints allow me to slow down my thinking while being intuitive. Tearing a print allows me to appropriate parts of information that existed in an original wholesome form. By collaging the torn pieces of prints on my paintings, I'm appropriating this information and forcing it function with another language. I paint, even if it is with a drill, hammer or printmaking gouge. I draw original images and appropriate others. When producing artwork I use digital images, layers of acrylic paint, charcoal, wood, collage, and an assortment of other digital and print media. I see these layers and images as metaphors for the phenomena of cultural appropriation, the crossing of cultural, economic, social and historical borders, or a disclosure on the human condition. I make works that coerce these layers to interrelate, coexist, and come into synthesis. Understanding these languages through my work allow me to merge differences and similarities and make sense of my place within this framework.
- Jesus De La Rosa