|Nicolás de Jésus and students, October 2012, NVCC, Annandale, VA, right side|
|Nicolás de Jésus, Fiesta de los Muertos, etching and aquatint|
|Dia de la Muerta, etching, aquatint|
But in the art of Nicolás de Jésus, the skeletons can be powerful metaphors for the living. The skeletons dance and celebrate, taking on the qualities of living people. They act out the human comedy, or, at times they partake in the human tragedy and satirize human behavior. His meanings can be critical and provocative. He is concerned with the lives of Mexicans on both sides of the border.
Left side detail with skeleton in NVCC/Annandale's new mural
Maicidio refers to the death of corn, a gift
from Mexico, through modification
One print that really strikes me is Maicidio, suggesting death to corn, one of Mexico's great gifts to the world. The United States has now changed the nature of corn, overproducing it and turning it into cattle feed or high fructose corn syrup, things it was never meant to be. Its by-products become additives in almost all processed food. With American corn now is 85% genetically modified, it's no wonder the skeletons attack and pull it apart. Let us remember this fact next Tuesday, when Californians go to the polls and vote on Proposition 37 which will require labeling for genetically-modified food (GMOs). As our industrialized US agricultural system is dominating and killing corn, people in the US become increasingly disconnected to land.
|En El Tran recalls when the artist lived in Chicago.|
In many ways his prints follow in the tradition of socially and politically active artists from Mexico in first half of the twentieth century: Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. A full-blooded Nahua Indian from a small village in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, he is an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. Themes of struggle meet the themes of celebration in his work. Though he is critical of much in society, he is above all a humanist who recognizes our foibles but understands our humanity.