Linda Vallejo: Art From the Roots
La Gente Magazine, April/May 1992
by Roberto Karimi
Linda Vallejo says keeps her from being with the Earth. Buildings. Smog. Crowded streets. Poverty. Pollution. Population density. Pavement and many, many cars. The view is breathtaking and expansive from the rooftop gallery although it has been ruined by mankind’s abuse of the Earth. As your eyes tum away from the smog line of Los Angeles and into the gallery, you can see the work of Linda Vallejo that celebrates the spirit and the images of people integrated with nature. This is the goal of Linda Vallejo, lo “inspire people to take care of the Earth.” “I want to perpetuate the beauty, the balance, the harmony, the dream of the Earth as a whole. Intercultural. Interspiritual. Intertribal. InterEarth.
Born in East L.A. in 1951, she followed her family throughout most of Europe during her father’s tour of duty in the US Air Force. During these travels she was exposed to various art forms and different styles of architecture which created her interest in artistic expression of all types. What attracted her was the history and culture of these expressions, and as she continued her travels without her family, her experiences in Europe became the basis and definition of her art. “Art, in the beginning, was my response to the environment that in Europe,” she explains.
After discovering Europe, Linda came back to L.A. in 1975 to spend time with her grandparents and her family. When she came back she discovered another art and another people unlike those in Europe. “When I came back and got into Chicanismo, and went to Mexico and saw the pyramid sites, then I realized my own people had their own ancient religion, architectural structures, and they were equally as moving as anything in Europe.” This discovery motivated her to study her “own past.” She studied Mesoamerican religion and mythology.
In it, she found “a bridge that connects all philosophy, education, and art: the Earth,” underneath her Chicano roots as well. For Vallejo, the essence of life is the Earth. “The Earth is our common Mother, our common burial ground.” Her philosophy was enriched through her involvement with the Native America n community. She explains, “When I say Native American, I mean the continent of indigenous life.” In 1977, she traveled with an all-women’s dance troupe called Flores de Aztlan through many areas making presentations. During these times, she worked with people from various Native American tribes and became rooted in the Native American philosophy.
“One of the main foundations of indigenous philosophy and thought, “she says, “is the Earth and their relationship to and respect for the Earth.” She has led Native American ceremonies for the Native American women at a prison for four years.
Vallejo’s art is grounded in her experiences with the Native American population and her Chicana/a history. You can’t disconnect yourself from who you were as a child,” Vallejo remarks. “You have to work to integrate all experiences into your life and work.” At the same time, she adds, “Your primary memories are often connected to natural settings,” she says. “When you remember an important occasion, the details of the environment are some of your strongest memories…because strength comes from the Earth directly.
Vallejo feels that one can find strength through experience. She has done this in her art by fusing the philosophies of Europeans, Native Americans, and Chicanos, to create a different art form. In some pieces, she puts trees and handmade paper together to create sculpture that combines nature and ·human imagination to pay homage to mother Earth. Through integration she strives to universalize the message of her art.
“If I became a truly integrated individual I could truly integrate my work.”