Artist statement

National symbols are cultural emblems that unify large populations. They are indispensable badges of a nation-state that communicate to the world the self-image of a people and place. These symbols are accumulated throughout the course of a nation’s history and are the visual legacy of a place. The citizens of a country identify with the national symbols and are woven into the national identity. Unfortunately, an immigrant’s national identity and the identity of their children is placed in limbo as the history of nations and cultural legacies collide.

The Chicano identity is built from the cultural legacy of two nations with distinct histories, traditions, and values. A Chicano inherits the legacy of their parent’s homeland which includes the pre-Columbian past, the Catholic Church, Mestizaje and an emphasis on the family. They also inherit the legacy and history of the United States which includes capitalism, individualism, segregation, and progress. As a result of this amalgam, a Chicano can’t fully claim the identity and symbols of one place and must navigate both cultures and compromise ideologies.  Out of this struggle, an opportunity arises to intimately learn the history and cultural heritage of two countries to create a new identity that synthesize the best attributes from both places. The work I make explores the cultural and historic legacies of the United States and Mexico with the intention of forging a new Chicano identity that draws from both countries.

Biography

Israel is an interdisciplinary California-born artist currently living and working in the Kizh Nation territory known as Los Angeles. His work explores the rich and diverse tapestry of cultures, lifestyles, and narratives found in the “City of Angels” through paintings, prints, photography, and artist books. The contradictions woven into the city are explored through the lens of an Angelino who was raised and lives in a neighborhood that is heavily industrial and predominantly working class. A community where the sunshine and palm trees are backdrops to sewing machines and 18-wheelers.

Israel graduated with a bachelors from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2011 and acquired an MFA from the University of Wisconsin‐Madison. His work is in the permanent collections of the Kohler Art Library, the UCSC Digital Art Research Center, the Zuckerman Museum of Art, and the Oregon College of Art and Craft. He has exhibited in venues across the country, including the ArtHelix Gallery in New York City, the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art in Portland and is an active member of the Vox Pop printmaking artist collective.