Eva Marengo Sanchez: First Person
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Galileo Gonzalez (b. 1988) is a first-generation Salvadorian-American artist born and raised Southeast Los Angeles in the suburb of Bell. In May of 2017, Gonzalez earned a BFA in Drawing & Painting from California State University, Long Beach, and in November of the same year, Gonzalez relocated to San Antonio where he currently lives and works alongside his partner and fellow artist Isabel Ann Castro.
Gonzalez’s work often deals with issues of personal identity, cultural upbringing, and his Salvadorian heritage. His current work focuses on visually interpreting oral stories from the Salvadorian Civil War as well as the diaspora that followed through generations. Gonzalez has exhibited at the Hibbleton Gallery, Fullerton, CA; AVD Gallery, Pomona, CA; Fathom Space, Missoula, Montana; the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, CA; Duke University, Durham, NC, and is included in the permanent collection of Cerritos College, Norwalk, CA, and the private collection of Enrique Serrato.
“En honor” was inspired by his late cousin, Nestor Zelaya, who he lost on Christmas day in 2006. Gonzalez memorializes his late family members and friends through a collection of portraits, family photographs and installation that reflects on his personal loss, his relationship with each subject and the influence they had on his life. The exhibit as Gonzalez explains “is more than honoring my family, it’s also about honoring Salvadoran culture, history, and the figures that fought against repression and erasure till the very end.” Among those figures is Rufina Amaya, the lone survivor of the El Mozote Massacre which included the slaughter of more than 800 civilians by the Salvadoran Army on December 11, 1981, during the Civil War. Gonzalez also pays tribute to the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador who through faith and tireless focus worked towards ending the war and bloodshed in El Salvador and were brutally murdered for their efforts by US-trained/funded commandos of the Salvadoran army thirty years ago on November 16, 1989.
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Artist Eva Marengo Sanchez (b.1990) was born and raised in San Antonio, TX where she began showing an interest in art from an early age. In 2006 Sanchez joined the Teen Program at Southwest School of Art where she first fell in love with classic oil painting. After earning her BA in Human Development and Social Relations from Earlham College in Richmond, IN in 2013, Sanchez traveled to Mexico City where she spent eight-months studying Spanish, Mesoamerican Art and Architecture, and Art Conservation. It was there that she began her obsession with food and in 2015 Sanchez returned to San Antonio and enrolled in drawing classes at San Antonio College to develop her skills as a draftswoman. Since 2017 has Sanchez exhibited her food paintings at galleries throughout San Antonio including S.M.A.R.T Gallery, Choice Goods, Fl!ght Gallery, as well as the Casa De La Cultural in Del Rio, TX. Recently Sanchez completed murals at the San Antonio International Airport and another one along the N. St. Mary’s Strip as a part of the San Antonio Street Art Initiative.
“First Person” is a continuation of the signature food paintings Sanchez has come to be well known for. The new series of oil paintings includes Louisiana crawfish, a pack of H-E-B original flour tortillas, a tub of Canel’s chewing gum, and a convenience store carry-out bag complete with a 6 pack of Modelo, Mexican Coke, American Spirit cigarettes, and Trojan condoms. Each oil painting is painstakingly crafted with particular attention to scale and composition, stripped of all nonessential information, and placed on a stark white backdrop to elevate what is commonplace and to create a new iconic symbol of her bi-cultural and Tex-Mex experience. “Each of my paintings represents snapshots into moments and reoccurring themes in my life that tell a larger story about geography and culture.” For Sanchez, food plays an important role in understanding who we are and how we see ourselves. Food creates a sense of belonging, particularly while we are the furthest away from home. The cravings we develop are often directly linked with the comforts we associate them with and the vivid memories they evoke. Food has the ability to transport and connect us with past and present family and friends, important events, and particular periods in our lives. Sanchez explains she uses food as a way to talk about her life and celebrate her identity, “I love food and its power to carry memory, create community and shape identity, and as the subject of my work, it’s the way I express my family history, life in San Antonio, and contemporary Mexican-American culture. We all have our own unique relationship with food, and the idea of making art that explores that relationship and is welcoming to people outside the art community is important to me. You don’t have to be an art critic to understand or connect to the emotions that food triggers.”