What if Elvis was Latino? Linda Vallejo's 'brown' art
The first exhibition of Linda Vallejo's work comes to L.A. and addresses Latino identity through unusual works. What does it mean to be a person of color in the United States?
For the Pythagoreans, 11 was a sacred number; for Masons, it's the number 3; and for Latinos residing in the United States, it should be 30, which is exactly the expected percentage of the Latino population in 2050. And if you join all the dots, playing with geometry in some sacred way, the result is a mandala.
The one that the artist Linda Vallejo, a Latina born in Los Angeles, made in one of her works within the series "Sacred Data," uses statistics on migration in her "The Brown Dot Project."
The artist turned them around, reinterpreting the migratory and identity narratives to tell a new story about Latinos and ask questions above anything else.
What if Elvis Presley had been Latino? What would The Winged Victory of Samothrace be like sculpted or painted in "brown"? Would the Hollywood industry have changed if the child prodigy of musical cinema, Shirley Temple, had Mexican or Puerto Rican roots, if her skin, instead of pale and freckled, had a dark hue?
That's what Vallejo wondered in "Make 'Em All Mexican," a series that turns pop culture icons into mestizos, and that was loudly publicized in 2016, just as criticism erupted for the "whitewashing" spiral in Hollywood, turning celebrities like Cate Blanchett or Audrey Hepburn into characters of Mexican descent, and even remodeling the Oscar statuette in the image of Emilio Fernandez.
To show us that, in spite of everything, the "post-race" culture continues.
Is a brown Marilyn and Elvis crazy? Maybe, but in a revolutionary way.
"I always appreciate when someone is going crazy," Vallejo told the New York Times.
"How I think of myself as a brown person and how the world sees me," the artist reflected. That's right, we need a space to talk about that kind of thing.
And it exists.
It's La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles, a museum and community center for people of Mexican American origin that offers new narratives and educates about the history of Latinos in the U.S.
History as the one told through her works, which are on display until January 2020 in "Linda Vallejo: Brown Belongings," the first exhibition dedicated to this Latina creator and which offers unusual perspectives on the identity, roots and social and political issues facing Latinos in the United States.
Because, as writer Eduardo Galeano said, "Utopia is on the horizon," even though we might have to struggle and find it three blocks from home.