Linda Vallejo, American LatinX
Kean University Karl and Helen Burger Gallery
1000 Morris Ave.
Union, New Jersey 07083
September 4—December 14, 2018
Kean University Karl and Helen Burger Gallery is pleased to present the beautifully brown body of work with 48 pieces by artist Linda Vallejo from her collections Make ‘em All Mexican and The Brown Dot Project.
Vallejo paints historical figures and contemporary pop personalities brown; revisions white iconic Oscar stars as brown-Mexican; and transforms Latino populations and workforce data into engaging visual representations using brown dots. Vallejo creates visually striking images as the discrete brown dots coalesce into semi-abstract images on gridded backgrounds and pop culture icons suddenly become people of color. They form a hook, connecting the viewer to deeper issues resting within the politics of color and the ability of data to inform and transform contemporary attitudes and culture. Each image becomes a poignant metonymic suggestion of a Latino reality while forming an expressive whole.
“Linda Vallejo’s overarching interest throughout the diverse stylistic and material phases of her career has been and remains the complex social dynamic surrounding individual and group identity. Her work has traced the progress of a narrative launched as an examination of her own heritage and the multivalent legacies of its influence on the sensibilities of her artistic and social consciousness.
—Shana Nys Dambrot, Critic, LA WEEKLY, Whitehot Magazine, and Artillery, among others
“Vallejo’s “Brown Dot Project” converts airy demographics into visual signifiers whose power is a good deal more visceral. The conversion of data of any sort into an aesthetic experience is fanciful enough; but when the data being converted is loaded with meaning – and the meaning itself is loaded with a whole different, volatile aura of meaning – the artworks that result pack an invisible wallop.”
—Peter Frank, critic for The Huffington Post and Adjunct Senior Curator at Riverside Art Museum
“Conceptually-informed, poignant and ironic, Vallejo melds populist cultural conventions and racial politics into an edgy brew, adroitly tapping into that nebulous space between anger and laughter. Her works, by their homespun appeal, are prosaic couriers altered into something much more provocative and compelling. They stop you in your tracks while simultaneously reaching backward and forward in time and reimagining the present.”
—Bill Moreno, curator, writer and director of William Moreno Contemporary, and founding Executive Director of the Claremont Museum of Art and past director of The Mexican Museum, San Francisco.
“Vallejo’s Make ’Em All Mexican produced a knee-jerk reaction in me when I first saw the work. As a white person, I felt offended. The work seemed facile, even shallow. I was prepared to simply write it off as the work of an angry Chicana who wanted to erase the white world, and, well, “make ’em all Mexican.” I tell Vallejo this, and she is open to my interpretation and not offended at all. She listens to me, but she wants to correct me when I ask if this series is a deep exploration of race. She explains, “If I said this work is all about race, I think that would be oversimplifying it. It’s about relationships, it’s about the politics of color, the politics of class. I think it’s about inclusion and exclusion. It’s about self-image and self-worth, compassion and empathy, and it’s about what we share in cultures. I realized what started as a joke produced a real dialogue. She works from the heart, as a real artist should. And she wants to explore issues that are important to her, like artists should do as well.”
—Excerpt from “BROWNOUT – LINDA VALLEJO PAINTS A NEW COLOR SCHEME” by Tulsa Kinney, Editor, Artillery Magazine, Los Angeles, CA, November 2014