The large-scale paintings are based on cultural, commercial representation and identity as depicted in hand-painted Oaxacan signage (rótulos) that appear both in Oaxaca and in Los Angeles. Rótulos reveal information, both practical and cultural. For transplanted Oaxaqueños in Los Angeles, these signs—their symbolism, language, designs, fonts, and style of execution, simulates a familiar in an unfamiliar place.
Rótulos have their own rawness and beauty. Typically, they are painted by a sign painter(s) who do not have academic art training--but they are masters of form and visual language. I find the choices made by these painters liberating and refreshing. The painters of rótulos have no need for the perfect line or understanding of complimentary colors, what is necessary is present and their choices are derived from cultural sources, years of successful tradition and their own style.
This summer, I photographed thousand of Oaxacan rótulos as a way of preservation as they are ephemeral. In time, they may fade--though they are known to last longer than plastic signs, which don’t weather well in the strong Oaxacan sun. But, the signs also change to recapture the attention of passersby or to advertise new products, an original sign may last only a few days or weeks before it is repainted. There are parallels with the ephemeral nature of these handpainted signs that I believe are comparable to the disappearance and transnationalism of indigenous people from Oaxaca. Rótulos are an involuntary picture of the Oaxacan community, based on traditions, religion and commerce.
In deconstructing the commercial function of rótulos into basic elements and principles of art, I intend to elevate the discourse around the cultural symbolism in the signage and draw attention to the transnational issues in the community.