The New American Gothic: a look into the Mexican-American inspired paintings of Criselda Vasquez
San Diego-based visual artist Criselda Vasquez has established herself as one of the most unique storytellers in contemporary American art as of late.
As a figurative painter, Vasquez has become renowned for her ability to capture the essence of the Mexican-American plight, largely by exposing the world to images only striking in their familiarity. These include images of parents standing tall, stone-faced and armed with tools for labor (in juxtaposition of the Grant Wood’s classic ‘American Gothic’), as well the solemn face of a young girl exceptionally suited for a fiesta.
In the eyes of the subjects, one––especially those apart of the culture––can viscerally see the stories and imagine the scenarios that precede the snapshots. There is pain, there is strength, and most of all, there is an accepted ambivalence––all the qualities aligned with sacrifice. And as most first generation Mexican-Americans and Latinx folks can attest, sacrifice has long acted as the foundation for the cultures ability to flourish. Because of the labor, the princesa can wear her crown.
“As the American-born daughter of two Mexican immigrants, I illustrate their plight and the plight of many in my community with my art,” Vasquez writes in reference to ‘The New American Gothic’, “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…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.”
You can find more of Criselda Vasquez’s work through her Instagram page, along with signed prints available for purchase.