Juan Lopez-Bautista

I find resonance between my artwork and the divided political discourse of today. In my current studio practice, I am approaching the landscape between the U.S.A. and Mexico as a human ecosystem. In my current works I am exploring the visual imagery of the immigrant’s remnants in the landscape. I use photographs of the U.S.A./ Mexico border that came from journalists, news, websites and groups for and against immigrants. These photographs show the remains from a journey and the residual of a long and sometimes deadly crossing. For some, it is just trash, for me it is a collection of objects with numerous meanings. These objects are visual stimulants for their variety of shapes and colors. The objects are leftovers of clothing that someone wore, empty jugs someone drank from, broken toys and dolls children played with, hats no longer worn, bags that no longer contain their valuable personal items. All of them belonged to somebody at some time and are waiting for a story to be deciphered. Although the objects appear faded after being exposed for weeks or months to the desert sunlight, they still vividly contrast with the arid and inhospitable environment. These objects found in the landscape are an opportunity for me to create abstractions.

While I am working in my studio, I often think about the lives left behind to pursue the dreams of the owners of these items. I explore this scenery as a journey experienced through the eyes of an immigrant. Their individual narratives are incarnate stories of friendships, persecution, aspirations, family ties and trust. In my painting processes I challenge myself to arrive at the poetics of in-betweenness amid the abstraction process and the human presence. In my work, pictorial elements are used as visual tools to engage an empathy dialogue with the viewer on current immigration issues. I envision my artworks as social settings, where issues of race, survival, resilience and hope, occupy the same pictorial space.