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Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your name, pronouns, and a little bit about yourself as a person & designer.

Yeah. Um, so my name's Jose Camacho. Um, I use he/him pronouns. I am originally from a small town outside of Houston, Texas called Friendswood, Texas. Um, yeah, I love art. I've been in love with art for my whole life, but I never thought that I wanted to do art as a career until like the second semester of my senior year of high school. Um, and then since then it's been a passion of mine, uh, right now I'm not so sure if I want to continue doing graphic design as my main form of art, but I know that I want to pursue art as you know, my life.

How do you highlight your individual identity in your work, the intersections between them and what inspired you to share these parts of yourself with the world through your work?

I think a lot of it is that growing up, I didn't—I wasn't as confident talking about my identity as a person of color. Um, and I guess I still am very much on the line of this you know, this dialogue or this narrative of being too Mexican for the white people and to white for the Mexicans when like really, I don't come from a mixed race family whatsoever. I'm just privileged enough to have been born in the United States and raised in the United States. And just like that fact alone makes me, you know, more white passing than someone who is born in Mexico or someone who even might've been born in United States, but comes from a more indigenous family. And so I just struggled a lot with identity growing up. And my—you know, my main source of guilt comes from sort of accepting all of the rhetoric and the narrative that I heard about Mexicans and, and Latinx people like Latinx, um, persons.

And, you know, um, I never really said anything about it, even though I had the privilege to. And I think that a lot of my artwork now comes from this idea of like, I never knew about these things, or I never wanted to know about these things whenever I was younger and I want to speak up now, um, you know, for the same people that are still suffering and a lot of just like, I dunno, this is kind of cheesy, but like I have two younger siblings and I also want them to know that like they can talk about their identities and I'm already seeing a lot of how they struggle with it going to white schools and stuff. And, um, just sort of the boxes that they're already put in. And I don't know, I sort of just want to contribute to a world of accepting their identity and it has been like a big struggle for me.

And then whenever I took 2D Design with Macha [Suzuki,] which I took my first semester LMU, um, again, a lot of the projects were a lot more about me. You know, it was like, make a piece of art that represents you, make something that is about, you know, your upbringing, or your background. And then there was this one project, which I think it was our final project for 2D Design. And it was to create a social justice poster about a topic that we felt really passionate about. And I think the weekend before that project was assigned, I had gone on my first sort of service trip with LMU. And I went to Tijuana with De Colores. And De Colores is a program where, you know, you spend a weekend in Tijuana and are immersed in a community and you get to hear and learn about immigration issues.

And so I was on this trip and I had to felt very passionate about the things that I learned and seen and felt very passionate about the fact that this is a topic and an issue that relates very presently to my family and a lot of the struggles that people in my family face. And, um, yeah, so I don't know the stars sort of aligned where I come from this, this weekend trip where I feel angry about a lot of issues that are caused by United States. And then I come back and that Monday I'm assigned a project where I get to make a poster about a social justice issue that I care about. So for me, it was a no brainer to sort of, you know, make something about immigration, trying to make something about social justice. And I found that when I'm making something that has an underlying message or is about sharing a story that I care about, I enjoy it a lot more than anything else.

And I don't think that a lot of the art that I make necessarily represents me, but just people that I care about rather than like myself, you know, because I'm not the person that's struggling with, um, you know, undocumentation, and I'm not the person that's struggling with deportation and I'm not the person that's struggling with, um, I don't know, homelessness or other things that I I've made art about, but there are a lot of people in my communities and who share the same racial identity that I do that do struggle with that. And so I want to sort of use my privilege to, um, you know, share the fact that, so there are some people out there that look like me and talk like me and speak the same language that me and my family do that are struggling a lot. And I think that's sort of my main, um, purpose or my main passion for why I like to make art like that.

How do you want your work to speak to others you may not identify with? And do you have any hopes in reaching out to different communities through your work?

Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of people who are in our major or just in the art school in general, believe in art as a way to communicate and a way to share stories. And that's particularly what I'm passionate about, is storytelling through art. So I feel that, you know, whether it's poster design or whether your art ends up on a billboard or in a museum, or even just on an Instagram feed, um, the fact is that people are interacting with it and people are seeing it. So I just think, you know, if I only get one like on a poster that I make that's about immigration, then at least that one person cares and that one person listened to what I had to say. Um, and that's something that I'm trying to remind myself a lot about especially now that, you know, social media is pretty much, I guess, like the only medium for people to show their art right now, just because of COVID.

And there's not a heavy emphasis on museums or galleries or anything of the sorts. So social media is sort of the main, um, form of communication for art. And so I feel like I'm trying to remind myself that, you know, the likes don't matter and whatnot, but I don't know. I said this—I was trying to, I don't know who I was talking to about this, but I was sort of saying that, you know, if at the end of the day, the only person who sees my work is like my mom, I'd still be happy because I know that my mom is listening to these issues that I care about. That may be a little bit harder for me to talk to her about, you know, in a normal conversation, especially when it's something about, I don't know, like, um, mass incarceration or something like black lives matter or issues that are a little bit more complex and hard to explain. I feel that art is the way that I've found to explain those issues um, you know, easier for me.

Would you say, find it easier to use your work for communicating about the topics you care about?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, I'm—I have experience with public speaking, but I'm not—I don't love it. And so I just feel like I overcome my fear of talking about things that I'm passionate about when it's about art a lot more than if it's like starting a conversation with someone that I don't know or starting a conversation, that's pretty serious with my family, but whenever it's like, you know, I put clear hours of my life into creating this work of art and it represents something that I believe in just the sheer fact that I decided to make this piece of art shows the dedication that I have to this particular topic in this particular issue, much more than if it's an off the cuff conversation that I have with someone that I don't normally interact.

How do you think the industry could consider and incorporate intersectionality in a more direct way either behind the scenes or in the mainstream?

Yeah, I mean, something I'm really passionate about is, uh, I think it was an artist that showed at the LaBand art gallery last spring semester. Her name was Betsabeé Romero, and she talked a lot about this idea of like the white cube and the white cube is sort of like this ideology or this sort of thing that she would use to describe museum spaces right now. And right now museum spaces are just blank walls. The walls are whites, you know, the building is white and the art is white because it's made by white people and probably specifically for white people. Um, there are some statistics that came out, I think in 2019 or 2020 that says something like 88% of all artwork in the United States, museums are made by white men and 12% of made by women & looking at the racial breakdowns. I think it was like less than 1% of art in America is made by black people.

And I don't know, I think that it's really upsetting that the norm or the status quo right now is that, you know, if you want your art to be put in a museum, you know, you can make your own museum. It's like, you know, particularly for me in Houston, like we have museums that are specifically about Chicano art or there's a museum that's specifically about African-American and black art. But if you go to, excuse me, like the main Houston MFA, it's like pretty hard to find black art or Mexican art. Um, and things are changing, especially in Houston, Houston just built, um, like this brand new contemporary art building. And there's like, I think I read something somewhere where they currently have like the largest collection of Hispanic art in the United States. So that's like moving in a very positive direction. Um, but I think as far as how I imagine growth, um, I don't know, I I'm really passionate about sort of tearing down this comforting and centering of white voices.

And that doesn't mean that, you know, white people don't have a place in museums anymore, but I don't think that they deserve as much as like a dominant space in museums. And I also think that, you know, it's not representative of our society. Um, you know, especially in the United States population is very much moving towards a minority majority. Um, I know in places like Texas, we already do have a minority majority and, you know, just like the argument of like what our government is supposed to be. Our government is supposed to be representative of the people who live in the government. I think the same thing about art museums, you know, like if the Texas population is like 50 or 60% Mexicans and, you know, people of color, then why is it that all the museums are filled with white people? You know, like where did, where did we get this art from?

Why do we keep shipping art in from Europe and new places across the world, whenever there's art, you know, directly to the South of our borders and there's artists like in our homeland too, that are making art that are making, you know, dedicated their life's work. And just because, you know, they are people of color they're not considered scholarly because not enough people have written about them whenever it's far easier for a white artist to, you know, become scholarly just because it's easier for them to get in a museum in the first place and to get, you know, literature written about them. So, yeah. Um, and I think one last train of thought would be that all of it's really starts in education and in schools, um, because looking at our current curriculum, at least for LMU and for many art, I guess our education across the country, like no art of color is not considered scholarly.

And by that very fact, you know, they're setting a standard for what will be accepted whenever we're in the real world. And I don't fully understand how we're expected to even like believe in ourselves and to think that we have a chance in the art world whenever we're sitting in class. And we're just seeing white arts by white artists that, you know, many of them come from a time when they probably were against the existence of people of color. And a lot of those things are just sort of, um, I dunno, they don't really affirm the BIPOC artists experience and they don't let us know that we have a place in the art world.


Is there anything else you'd like to mention?

I mean, I have my website, it's just my name, Um, I don't know. I would just say to, for people to be more adamant about their place in the university, because one of the things that I've been really passionate about is, um, you know, being vocal about the fact that our curriculum is very skewed towards white people. Um, so I would just like challenge people to, um, join in that conversation. Um, I don't know, it's something I'm very passionate about and I w I want to see change, excuse me, before I graduate, but I don't think that will happen. Um, so I just want to fight for change for, you know, the people who are students of color coming into this university as studio arts majors, um, as freshmen right now.


And I hope that by the time they graduate, they can take a class that's specifically about black art or Mexican art. And it counts towards their major rather than, um, not counting for anything and not being considered scholarly. That's sort of what I want. So I, I guess I encourage people to pay attention more to who is, and isn't talked about in these artistic spaces, um, and if you're a white artist do what you can to step aside and help pave the way for artists of color. And if you're an artist of color, like empower other artists of color to, you know, join together, um, yeah 

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