In this oil on canvas painting by Criselda Vasquez, she uses her parents to reinterpret and contemporize the iconic 1930 painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic.
Completed in 2017 and measuring 72 inches tall and 48 inches wide, Vasquez adds:
As the American-born daughter of two Mexican immigrants, I illustrate their plight and the plight of many in my community with my art. I want to expose the heart-breaking pain of what a Mexican immigrant’s family goes through. I focus on bringing my family’s world into the light and out of the shadows. My paintings are best described as visual comments on the hidden daily reality of the Mexican-American experience. These portraits and still lifes reveal my family in their own authentic environment and expose how I live in two worlds. My paintings layer the American culture over the Mexican world. I feel society needs to be aware of the humanity on the other side of the door.
The two most important people in my life, my parents, are also the two who motivated me to develop such a strong concept. When my parents pose for these paintings, their faces are reduced to extremely raw and somehow vulnerable expressions. Sadly, they strive to be invisible every day. They don’t have to pretend to illustrate the invisible. They have dealt with constant rejection, suspicion and fear so long, that it seems now that it comes naturally to them. I strive to capture how their expressions deliver that sense of tiredness, resignation, and quiet acceptance. It seems relevant to show that underneath all the politicization and underserved labeling this community receives, these are regular people just like all of us. In the long tradition of immigrants that come to the United States, they have made homes here and they are just trying to live a simple life with a bit of security and hopefulness for their children.
To see more of Vasquez’s work, check her out on Instagram and Twitter.