Arts & Theater

‘American Me’: Art exhibition explores the Latinx American experience in age of Trump

“Freedom” by Raul Mejia. Mejia says it’s a reflection of the constitutional crisis the country is currently in, with reference to the detainment camps.
“Freedom” by Raul Mejia. Mejia says it’s a reflection of the constitutional crisis the country is currently in, with reference to the detainment camps.

On Saturday, the Latino Center of Art and Culture will host “American Me,” an art exhibition that explores the complexities of the American experience for Latinx Americans.

The exhibition’s curator, Raul Mejia, said it’s important to have the show in July because the month symbolizes freedom.

Latinx Americans like Mejia said they struggled with celebrating the Fourth of July, a holiday centered around independence and freedom, when children were in cages and families were separated at the border of Mexico.

“I wanted to develop a show that was about honesty and how we felt,” said Mejia, “For me it means everything to be honest, especially during this time right now.”

Mejia said the current climate made him feel torn, with ICE raids and the treatment of asylum seekers at the border constantly in the news. Yet he’s proud to be an American.

“In my opinion we [Latinos] are such incredible Americans, and I want to change the rhetoric on what America looks like,” said Mejia, “We are already in the fabric of society, we are what is America.”

Mejia said the exhibition will showcase more than 20 artist’s personal American experiences, allowing guests the opportunity to learn more about the complex challenges of identity that Latinxs in America face.

The show will also feature guest artists from the Central Valley.

Co-curator of American Me, education outreach leader Marianne Ceballos, Stockton, said she is thrilled to team up with Mejia.

Ceballos said her involvement with the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery in Stockton and her desire to establish a stronger art community in the Central Valley led her to work with Mejia.

“It’s a way of establishing a connection,” Ceballos said, “It’s a strength when we draw different people and cities together.”

Ceballos said the show will be a beginning point and she hopes the many diverse perspectives of the artists will resonate with guests, leaving them with a sense of agency.

“We can’t look away anymore, America is changing and a lot of [artists] are wanting to show different aspects,” Ceballos said, “I think artists don’t look the other way – they represent, they get out there in every way to show what’s going on.”

Professional tattoo artist and self-taught painter Maricelia Dominguez, of Sacramento, said her American Me piece “Bang” represents all women and will hopefully enlighten guests on the struggles they currently face.

“I just wanted to take everything that I feel so passionately about and put it into one painting,” said Dominguez, “This is to shine light on all the inequality and all the unfairness that we have to face every day.”

Dominguez said overcoming her own adversities, struggling with her identity within the Latinx groups in her community and working as a female artist in the tattoo industry inspired her to advocate for those who go unheard.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we have voices because that’s my job as an artist,” Dominguez said.

Mejia and Ceballos said American Me is a celebration of America and the beauty of its diverse perspectives.

“What it means to be America is very different now a days,” Ceballos said. “Don’t look the other way, come out and connect differently with others.”

American Me will be an indoor/outdoor event and will showcase paintings, photography, installations and photo opportunities with a luchadora in a lowrider. There will be a DJ spinning and food and drink vendors.

The event is all ages and free admission. Doors open at 7 p.m. and close at 11 p.m.

If you go

“American Me”

When: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday

Where: 2700 Front St., Sacramento

Cost: Free