Jessica Alazraki Art Statement

The figures I show in my pictures convey every-day stories of immigrants living in America, mainly members of the Latinx communities. As a Mexican woman living in New York, I feel it is my responsibility to open up a dialogue about immigrants. Bright colors, flat spaces, and empathetically-rendered figures are all visual entryways to the works, often immediately recognizable by Mexican immigrants. The imagery is accessible to a mainstream audience. Narratives remind the viewer of shared experiences with an eye for humanizing a community that is often invisible.

I’m currently working on a series of paintings on colorful tablecloths, a ubiquitous symbol of colorful Mexican folk art. I prepare the surface with a varnish that seals the vinyl plastic to be able to paint with acrylic and oil, and then use the tablecloth as a support for my imagery. I try to tell a story and set up a particular relational dynamic in each one. Formally, I am compelled to flatten the spaces of my works, using broad swaths of color or patterns, sometimes the tablecloth itself, to bring the viewer closer to the figures.

I worked in the advertising field professionally for years, catering to the US Hispanic market, and I was hired to “make the ads look Mexican.” My pictures are a reaction to that ethos: although pictorially flat, the figures nevertheless persist in living entirely social and familiar lives within.

In its final stage, the painting is trimmed with a colorful border and hung as an unframed and unstretched wall hanging. The piece insists on its roots in function and art of the people, but also carries a pictorial narrative. It is a process that references the tension between folk art and Western painting, and is a useful metaphor for the duality of immigrant life.

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