Xico González is an artist, poet, and a political and cultural activista based in Sacramento, California. Xico will be participating in “Desmadre: Fresh Latino Perspectives” May 14th Vermillion Gallery Seattle, WA.
Where are you from? What is your heritage?
I was born in East Los Angeles, CA to undocumented Mexican parents from the state of Nayarit. At age 1, my family returned to Mexico and settled in the border city of San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, México. I spent 15 years in México before coming back to the United States in 1992.
A decade ago, I arrived in Sacramento, CA and for the first time since I left México, I feel at home. My wife was born and raised in this area and we have decided to stay here. Sacramento grows on you, and now I claim it as my hometown.
What is the medium that you most commonly work in?
The medium that I mostly use and love is silkscreen printing. Silkscreen is the medium that works best for me as a political activista, desmadroso y revoltoso. Silkscreen allows me to disseminate my politics, my concerns and dreams to a wider audience due to its multiplicity. I have organized a great deal of rallies, marches, and protests and with my silkscreen prints; I have changed the aesthetics of an environment by providing a visual to the concerns of my community.
What tends to inspire you and your work?
What inspire me most are the people that are out there working hard to provide a better life for their families. The invisible people that are working low-paying jobs to put food on their family’s tables.
If it was not for art I would be………..?
Do you have any artistic relatives? if so what do they do?
My brother and sister are into art. My brother does arte repujado, 3D work on aluminum sheets. He learned the medium while traveling and living in Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Jalisco. For a while he lived off his artwork, selling it to tourists in Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta. My sister used to draw and paint, but stopped doing so.
Is music part of your creative process? What do you listen to most?
Music plays an important role in my creative process. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music from norteñas to reggae. While creating, I have to have music in the background. A lot of times, song lyrics inspire me to create artwork. Right now I’m really into Latin American reggae roots bands such as Gondwana, Nonpalidece, Gomba Jahbari, Cultura Profética, Morodo, Dread Mar I and others including my all time favorites Todos tus muertos, and los pericos. The whole rock en español movement inspires me and motivates me to create art. Also, I like to keep it real and listen to norteñas, banda, rancheras, and son jarocho. Los tigres del norte has been a source of inspiration in recent years while creating artwork for the immigrants’ rights struggle. Songs like “La jaula de oro,” and “Tres veces mojado” really inspire me to create artwork para la gente inmigrante con o sin papeles.
What food most reminds you of home?
All Mexican food! My mom is a great cook. If I was to choose a specific plate, probably papas con chorizo. It reminds me of my childhood having breakfast with all the family there. Those were the good old days when my family was very united.
When you are with family do speak mostly in english or espanol?
When I’m with my family hablamos español. I guess in my family is frowned upon speaking English amongst ourselves porque somos Mexicanos, and it will be funny or weird for us to be speaking English with heavy accents instead of speaking in our native language. Now, with my wife, we speak to each other in English, español, code switching, Spanglish, and caló, tú sabes? Bien Chicano experience!
What do you think could help raise the profile of young Latino artists here in America?
I don’t think that we need the acknowledgement of the mainstream. I think that we should continue doing what we are doing, because we love doing it and not for recognition. FTS.
Is there a connection between Latino artists here in the US and those throughout the hemisphere?
There is a connection and I think that there should be more dialogue amongst Raza throughout the hemisphere. As a political artist, I can relate to other Latin American artists creating political art, because we are fighting the same oppressor though our art. It will be beneficial to the movement if there were a network relationship and cultural exchanges between Raza artists to work together across borders.
Anybody you would like to thank or acknowledge?
I want to acknowledge two people that are no longer with us, but that made a big impact on my life as an artist, poet and as a person, the late Zapatista poet Phil Goldvarg, and the late pioneer of the Chicano art movement Ricardo Favela. I had the pleasure and the honor of calling these two veteranos my compañeros en armas y mis carnales. I would also like to acknowledge my wife Victoria for her support and love.
View more of Xico González art at www.xicogonzalez.com