Quintin Gonzalez is an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Colorado at Denver where he deeply enjoys working with students, faculty and university staff. The native Laredoan was one of three artists chosen for the Neta Call for Resistance Art. Gonzalez describes his creative work, the inspiration behind the proposal and the image of resistance he developed in the collaborative process.
Gonzalez’ original submission centered around the idea of creating a digital painting that honored the work of social justice leaders in the Rio Grande Valley in the style of romantic portraiture of the 19th century. He provided examples of previous work depicting movement leaders like gun control activist, Emma Gonzalez, and Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. The artist’s inspiration came from his wish to provide homage to those who tirelessly work on the behalf of immigrants to find acceptance in a land of immigrants.
“I wanted to address a climate of racism that exists in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) by creating a portrait that would be an image of empowerment and hope,” he said.
Las Imaginistas, an art collective in Brownsville, nominated Miriam Aguayo, an immigration attorney at ProBAR in Harlingen because of her fervor for justice and her willingness to fight for others who cannot defend themselves. Aguayo confronts the realities of the immigration and deportation system daily and does so head on. She embodies empowerment and hope knowing she represents the aspirations and dreams of unaccompanied minors separated from their families along the US/Mexico border.
Under the suggestion of the judges, Neta facilitated a call with Aguayo and Gonzalez, which allowed both a better understanding of each other’s work. Through this connection we hoped a sincere representation and image would develop. In their conversation, Aguayo described her life in Brownsville, as a daughter of immigrants and her experience volunteering with Proyecto Juan Diego. She mentioned drawing her strength from her Mexican American heritage and described a sense of responsibility for both communities. Gonzalez used the conversation as inspiration for the portrait titled Justicia based off a photograph chosen by Aguayo.
“My work serves the notion of resistance and also a call to action by honoring the heroes of that movement. The ones who have earned a right to be honored because for their earnest and unwavering commitment to that cause,” Gonzalez said. “I am not entirely convinced that art can directly change lives on a large scale. However, I firmly believe that art can change the life of someone who changes lives.”
Editor’s note: Neta commissioned artists to create art to “visualize the resistance” against the discriminatory and oppressive policies from the Trump administration. Quintin Gonzalez is one of the artists we are honored to have worked with.