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Roberto Valdes Sanchez
Drawing - Color Pencil
Gangs are a plague that have affected my life, as well as many other countless lives in numerous communities. Many of those who are affiliated with gangs have all the potential in the world, but instead waste their time, energy, and talents on this negative cause. It is my opinion that most gang members suffer from a lack of identity and, because of this, join a local gang to feel a sense of belonging. It's their own mis-educated way of rebelling against the system they feel has abused them. To combat this type of mentality, we must teach young Chicanos about their history and culture - something that public schools purposefully do not do. Remember that "knowledge is power!" Knowing where you came from and realizing the struggles that various generations have had to continue to overcome is a revelation that forces you to look at life differently and deeply influences your actions in a positive way. This is what inspires me as an artist to visually teach historical, cultural, and political material in order to make people think and learn more about themselves.
"Paz" ("Peace") is a dream sequence that shows a supernatural Aztec being joyfully embracing his peaceful vision of Norteno and Sureno gangs. There are several symbolic connections taking place inside the visionary cloud, not only with the silhouettes of rival gangs shaking hands, but also with the connecting bridge and telephone lines in the background (symbolizing "communication") and the merging railroad tracks in the foreground (revealing a united path to the future). The ultimate symbolic figure is the mythical Aztec spirit representing our history, our culture, and our indigenous heritage. With his tri-colored headdress and eagle-like features, his image embodies the Mexican flag. Like a father, he embraces his long-lost sons and is driven to tears after finally seeing them reconcile their differences. He epitomizes the cultural and historical bond that is shared by the rival Chicano gang members.
July 17th, 2012
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