Daniela Garcia is a first-generation Mexican American artist. Originally from the Antelope Valley California, she spent her childhood living between the rural town of Lake Los Angeles (CA) and her fathers' hometown, Las Canas Guanajuato, Mexico. As a child she was constantly surrounded by immigrant culture, both the artist' parents were the first to immigrate to the United States in the 1980's.
My work explores my cultural upbringing through the lens of immigration. Immigration has been a pillar in my life. From a young age I was submerged within Mexican Immigrant communities both through geographical location and through my own family shifting through the channels of immigration. I construct representational paintings and drawings using family, color, and motifs that weave together narratives which celebrate my cultural upbringing and the effect of restrictive and harmful immigration policies on my community.
I use reference photos gathered from personal documentation of family members that chronicle our journey through the system. I stage the figures in my work played by my younger cousins and nephews, in environments rich with colors from my father’s home state of Guanajuato. The walls of the cement houses shift between pink, yellow and light blue. Each color describes the passing of time, tied to my family’s home in Mexico. Each year we returned the color of the home would shift and as the color shifted so did the restrictions and repercussions of immigration.
Imagined scenery surrounded by color and tile flooring represents the spaces my family inhabits. The dark blue and black tile represents the political policies put in places that have led to unjust suffering and the prevention of immigration. The tile patterning that shifts with the subjects, almost pulling them into the floor represents my personal perspective formed through my upbringing. Symbols like a dog walking in and out of the frame represent the Coyotes that transported my family here, stories are retold through my work using children from my family as stand-ins for the experiences of their parents. Each “coyote” in the portraits of my parents (el coyote de Alejandro and Antonia), tell their experiences with their guides. My mother is portrayed on the floor clutching her ankle and the coyote sits next to her in a protective pose. She was injured during her journey and it was the coyote who helped her make it through the journey. My father experienced the opposite with his guide, he was left abandoned on the 805 interesante in California, he had fallen as he was running across and the coyote did not hesitate to leave him there. In both works the tile pattern submerges them in pieces and flows with the colors of their clothing and the objects surrounding them that retell their stories. The pattern represents the tainting of the memories as they are retold after new experiences.
I use these patterns throughout my work as a physical representation of family and the ceremonies/celebrations woven into the culture. Que Lo Parta! Is depicting the right of passage during a birthday celebration. No matter the child’s age, they must be the first one to slice the cake and hand out the slices to their guest. In the work the child performing the ritual is only a year old, the adult woman standing behind her holds the heavy butcher knife steady as the child feeble attempts to cut the cake. Reflecting back on this ritual, I realized how dangerous it was to let such a small child participate. Looking back on these family rituals, I feel connected to the ceremonies but I still feel as though I am observing as an outsider after growing up in the U.S. Even though the interior of the room reflects my family home in Mexico, you can see that out the front door the scenery is on a corner street in the U.S.
Formas de Familia, March 26 – April 16, 2022.