I realized that I had never seen the golden images of Americana with “brown” faces. I yearned to see The yearning for familiar faces sent me on a quest for images that I could call my own.
One day, while searching for materials to repurpose in a local antique mall, I spied a set of salt and pepper shakers shaped like two little pilgrims on their way to their Thanksgiving celebration. I said to myself, “I can paint them brown!” Before long, I blurted out, “I just wanna make ’em all Mexican—like me!” I began painting directly on antique photographs, porcelain and plaster figurines, postcards, and magazine pages to create an America that looked “brown” like me.
For some viewers, the works are hyper-political or just downright hilarious; for others, they are portals to deeply seated memories and a range of emotions. Many viewers have responded by sharing personal experiences, including disturbing ones. Viewer responses have reached beyond color-related considerations, encompassing women’s and LGBTQ rights, and the struggles of anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. In that sense, Make ’Em All Mexican recognizes a shared sense of exclusion from power and access—while opening doors to a reimagined world of acceptance and equality.