THE BRACERO LEGACY PROJECT... ongoing process
THE BRACERO ART PROJECT is a multidisciplinary approach for creating a new dialogue about Californian and American history through the generational experience of farm labor migrants and how their struggles have created opportunities for them and their families. Notwithstanding the pain and loss, but focusing on sacrifice and hard work as a means of liberation and social mobility. During the past year, Ignacio Ornelas and I have built a series of projects that should be considered a starting point for great social awareness through the power of History, Art and Education.
I believe that the Bracero is a symbol that has been in the dark for too long. Their contributions to the Californian and American economy have never been applauded, nor has a greater acknowledgement of the influence that their journeys had in the region, with the eventual migration of their peers and their families. The Bracero is the original transborder Mexican-American, a situation that is more than common nowadays, and better yet, is about to become the most influential culture in California.
I have been very active in artistic experimentation with these ideas, and created a kinetic sculpture project that honors the strength of the Bracero. Named THE MEXICAN LABOR AGREEMENT, the project is an amalgamation of history, culture andingenio mexicano. I appropriated EL CORTITO as a symbolic tool of social change. The objects political connotations should be seen as scars of honor, not shame, and its victorious extinction in the field is witness to our culture`s evolution. But the battle should be known.
SCULPTURE / ESCULTURA: THE MEXICAN LABOR AGREEMENT
DOCUMENTARY : SEARCHING FOR THE BRACERO´S LEGACY
We are in the midst of a documentary film project that we see informing millions of potential viewers about the real history of the Californian success story. Based on the research of The Bracero Legacy Project, the testimony of actual Braceros and their families. We will dissect our own journey into this story through the eyes of a Historian and an Artist. The film is in it’s initial stages, and we plan to secure resources to continue it´s production.
TRANSBORDER / THE GALARZA COLLECTION is a reproduced series of 1950´s archival photographic documents from the Ernesto Galarza Collection at The Stanford University Libraries/Special Collections, curated by Ignacio Ornelas Rodríguez, a Bracero history scholar and grandson of an actual Bracero Program veteran, and Daniel Ruanova, an iconoclastic visual artist from the borderlands of Tijuana.
Mr. Galarza held a very critical stance towards the Bracero Program and took these photographs to demonstrate the ills of the program; many pre-established Mexican-American families did not approve of the influx that these “new Mexican arrivals” created in the local job markets and future labor issues were detonated by these conflicts.
Today we give new light to these photographs, and publish them as images of new-Americans on their journey to the land of opportunity. Eventually, these moments in time will be seen in the same context as the ones with European immigrants reaching The Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The Bracero program gave these men the opportunity to overcome poverty in Mexico through hard work and personal sacrifice. Their journeys became the precedent for millions of Mexicans who are now Americans.
The power of image, in this case, witness to historical presence and the empowerment that self-representation creates in the lives of people, generates a sense of cultural redemption now lost in post-nationalistic rhetoric, racial mongering politics and the cultural whitewashing of multiethnic communities. The images we all know of the migrant mexican farm workers -spots on a landscape or a sombrero with a body- tell the story of the oppressed, the shamed, the battered, and a world of pitiful connotations almost never acknowledging the subjects own personal story and stance.
We want to change that story.
THE BRACERO ART PROJECT:
THE MEXICAN LABOR AGREEMENT / 2015 /onsite-kinetic-sculptural-installation24 mechanically animated short handle hoes, steel chassis, sprockets, chains, electrical wiring, two 1 horsepower electric motors and timer / Variable dimensions (approx 17´ x 7´ x 5´). Collection and Project commissioned: Luis Peña / Bracero, Cocina de Raíz
SEARCHING FOR THE BRACERO´S LEGACY – A new-American encounter for a place in history (working title) / 2015 / Docu-drama-teaser / in collaboration with Ignacio Ornelas / HD video duration: 5 mins.
TRANSBORDER / THE ERNESTO GALARZA COLLECTION photographs from the STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES / 1950´s – 2015 / Re-printed for The Bracero Legacy Project