Back Breakers (After Courbet)
Back Breakers (After Courbet), 2015. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.
In my work I am often navigating the intersections of art, history, and politics. Contextually driven, my art is a means to help locate and understand who I am, where I came from, why I’m here. Generally representational, I see my art within the realm of social realism, using portraiture and appropriation of popular iconography as entryways into discussions about the intersecting issues of identity, gender, race, and class. Bringing these discussions to the forefront of my art practice reflects my attempt to fill a personal void created by my experiences as a first generation Mexican-American. This oil painting appropriates Gustave Courbet’s The Stone Breakers (1849), who focuses on everyday people and places in 19th century French life, in an attempt to portray everyday people as a political entity. By replacing Courbet’s modest workers with the timeless immigrant agricultural workers, I seek to situate low-income, working class, people of color into the canon of Western Modernity, where their contributions are often unacknowledged.