Visiting artist speaks on his past and art’s future

Salvador Jiménez-Flores introduced a captive audience to “An Imaginary World of Rascuache-Futurism” on Oct. 11, in the Wriston Auditorium. 

Looking back at his childhood, Jiménez-Flores never expected that he would become an artist. All he knew was that he wanted to be like his dad; he also knew that he was into horses and soccer, which was the first hobby that he devoted himself to in a big way. Growing up in Mexico then moving to the United States was a pivotal point in his life. Without it, he said, he may never have become an artist. 

Not knowing English and taking art classes felt to him like his eyes were opened to a new way of thinking. He started out in photography classes, moving his way through his undergraduate years with classes primarily in printmaking and graphic design. These were formative years where he learned that he could use his work as a sort of time machine — connecting a sense of what has happened and what will happen in communities that are important to him. Narratives such as these continue in his work to this day. 

Even more pivotal in his career were his years after graduation, when he spent time as a teaching artist at Pilsen in Chicago. There he found people who looked like him and related to the experiences that he had. 

As he gained more experience in the art world, his interests around art accessibility grew, and he began to focus more on who can create and how artistic skills can better be brought into homes. Thus, he began a project of printmaking workshops made up of allotted time for learning printmaking, which Jiménez-Flores says can even be done with Styrofoam plates and ink, and a tortilla social, where those printmaking skills can be further applied during discussions of more expanded social discussion. Such gatherings follow along with his philosophy that art is to be learned and shared and passed on from generation to generation. 

Much of his work is centered not only around accessibility of creating art, but also the diversity of those portrayed in art. Sometimes galleries ask him how they can be more diverse in their collections. His answer is that they need to look at their collections to see that they are not primarily displaying white artists in white Western spaces. His collections offer images of Mexican people and the facets of identity that come along with that. 

Stylistically, Jiménez-Flores leans toward ‘60s futurist aesthetics while tying in aspects of his own culture and heritage, such as painting with terracotta slip or showing faces of Mexican people as segments of a cactus in some iteration of a totem. 

Politics are not absent in his pieces either. He has spoken through his art on the idea of double consciousness that W. E. B. Du Bois wrote about, revisionist history and the intersection of capitalism and pre-Columbian thought, as well as about stereotypes and misconceptions of Mexican people. 

His mastery of many different mediums allows him to successfully play with and recontextualize symbols that are familiar to create something new and striking. For those interested in learning more or viewing Jiménez-Flores’ art, it can be found at salvadorjimenezflores.com.

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