In recent years, the art scene in the IE has improved significantly. The representation and variety of work is aligning very closely with the people who live there. It’s refreshing to have seen this shift take place and even more rewarding to be part of it.
The IE art scene used to have a more traditionally academic approach. Although there’s nothing wrong with tradition, they can sometimes be limiting. When there’s limitation on creative expression, the outcomes will end up looking the same. The words “boring” and “art” don’t make sense together; that’s because art is personal to its creator.
The first time I had seen art that really moved me was when Cheech Marin first exhibited his private collection at the Riverside Art Museum circa 2017; which is now permanently the Cheech Center for Chicano Art & Culture at the Riverside Art Museum.
Up until that point, I had studied traditional art and media. So when I saw East LA motifs displayed in grandeur just like a neoclassical piece would be, it was an emotional experience. There hung on the white walls, paintings of figures that looked like my family and my ancestors. There were the murals and scenic views of the places I’d pass every Saturday on my way to my grandmother’s house.
I thought: finally, art that is made by us and for us.
This connection is what motivates artists to keep creating. It’s a piece of themselves that they choose to share with the world. There’s intimacy in being understood by others without verbal dictation, it is a cathartic human experience that keeps us gravitating towards the arts. This is especially true for the POC community. Seeing the POC community claim space is healing to the insecurities that have been passed down through generations of assimilation. With this healing, we pay homage to those who came before us who were silenced by oppressive forces.
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