Written by Javier Jauregui
“Society classifies skin color, beliefs, and age”, says Alejandro Ruiz, a student at Grand Rapids Community College, “There are college students or workers who are teens, but society labels them as troublemakers.” Ruiz believes that classifying individuals without understanding who they are as a person creates conflict in our community. Our environment plays a role in shaping identity, and it’s human nature to make quick judgements.
Yet, Ruiz has a firm idea of who and what he is: Mexican. He wants others to understand his culture, his perspective through the lens of youthful art. What does it feels like to be undocumented? Who is Mexican in the this country, in this city? What shapes our perception, our identity? When does it begin? These questions are searched in The Start of Everything -paintings celebrating themes of childhood and ethnicity.
His images depict four symbols that resonate with his experience, paintings that connect the past with the present. The vibrant colors evokes a sense of childhood where playful innocence was an extension of paper and crayon. In this case, Ruiz is celebrating what he feels was influential to his upbringing. Television. Music. Heritage. Patrón.
How do these symbols connect with the present? What do they say about the tensions of race and equity? Ruiz feels uncomfortable discussing these issues, especially because the topic rarely comes up among his peers. This feeling of uneasiness is in part because he doesn’t know how to navigate through those discussions, something he wishes to change with his piece.
Ideally, the attendees, especially youth, will recognize the importance of reflection, of doing something for the benefit of others. To have a sense of purpose. Ask questions.
Who am I? How does childhood bridge one’s present existence?
Raised by my parents who migrated to the U.S.A
Not knowing they were going to have a kid born in the year 1998
As I grew up, I still remember when I was in pre-K
Seeing this commercial come up on tv everyday
Orgullo Hispano was the name as inspiration ran through my mind
Telling myself that one day i was going to come out through the other side of the screen as well
A few years go by….
Hey cousin can you teach me how to draw?
Both sitting down drawing dragon ball z on back of my homework
Getting nominated as number one artist from my 3rd grade class.
As time passes by…
Walking this path in my life
I got to meet a lot of artist who showed me how to work on different art styles
And using materials to its best from pencil all the way to painting.
Being the first from my family to go into college
Wanting to become an industrial designer and work for Ford Motor Company
Still with my goal to one day come out on the other side of the tv where i can also be an “Orgullo Hispano.”
And make my parents and hispanic family proud.