Alan Angeles

Being born in Mexico City, affected financially by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), my family felt forced to move to Los Angeles. My family and I arrived to states soon after the September 11, 2001 New York terrorist attacks. During that time, minorities of our skin tone were depicted as a problem in society by the media. Fear made assimilating into this new culture hard, and made it very difficult for me to focus on art and school. This was a pivotal time in my life because it did not only made me remember the tragedy in New York, but also the hardships I had to endure as a Mexican in America.

As a child, I would watch a lot of television, as do most children. Society’s inability to help me assimilate into this new culture, reverted me back to try to learn this culture and language through television. I found inspiration in my ability to put what I would see in that screen on some scratch sheet of paper. These drawings weren’t perfection, but they helped me understand and transition into the American way of life. As my knowledge increased, my drawings began to depict the negativity that was broadcast through the media about minorities. I made the decision to use art as a voice for myself and other minorities who felt misunderstood and unjustly judged. It was my motivation to improve my skills and actively search to better myself and the situation I was in.

Attending an art university was at the moment unattainable due to financial hardships. I was not discouraged by this obstacle, instead I searched for other avenues that would still allow me to progress. Through my research I was able to find affordable studio classes that helped build my creative foundation. By taking these courses I was able to understand that a true artist does not necessarily have to graduate from a prestigious school, but is someone who continuously practices art and can see art wherever they go.

My childhood years, although tough at times, gave me a self-realization of the person I wanted to be. It helped lead me to my destiny of joining other artists like myself in helping people have a voice via our art. In the last few years, I have taken the idea of making art more “democratic” in the sense that everyone could afford to make it. Using recyclable or cheap materials gives me the opportunity to do just that. It is very rewarding to see individuals of different socioeconomic status who enjoy art to be able to create it. I have implementing this idea to show others that you do not need expensive materials and schooling to create art that has the ability to move, inform, and inspire people.