My Veins Do Not End in Me explores how we inherit pasts that don’t directly belong to us and how the memories that these pasts conjure live within families, amongst communities, and across nations. The exhibition is conceived as a family portrait that is at once intimate and worldly. Bringing together the work of Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio (b. 1990, Los Angeles), his father Juan Edgar (b. 1954, El Salvador), and his grandmother Maria de la Paz (b. 1917, El Salvador), the show investigates the cultural legacy of the Salvadoran Civil War, tracing the war’s impact into the present and opening the door to a little-known but vital part of Los Angeles art history rooted in the beginnings of the Central American Civil Rights movement.
Lasting from 1980 until 1992, the Salvadoran Civil War was fought between the country’s U.S.-backed, military-led government and the guerrilla forces of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN)— a coalition of revolutionary groups formed in response to a long history of socioeconomic disparity and State-sponsored human rights violations. The war is one of the most violent periods in the modern history of Central America; over 75,000 people were killed and countless more were forcibly disappeared. As in other cases of U.S. military, economic and political involvement the war created deep and conflicted ties between the two countries. As a result of the violence, a quarter of El Salvador’s population was forced to flee— many of whom arrived in the Los Angeles, where they were protected by U.S. asylum laws. Today, Los Angeles in particular remains home to one of the largest Salvadoran populations outside El Salvador, and is considered the heart of its diaspora.
The constant movement of people between Los Angeles and El Salvador, both historically and in the present day, is the living rhythm that contextualizes My Veins Do Not End In Me. Over four decades, each generation of the Aparicio family developed distinct visual practices in response to the shifting psychological, political and material circumstances of their disparate life experiences.
Juan Edgar became one of the thousands of refugees to leave El Salvador during the war after his wife, brother, and daughter were disappeared by government forces in reprisal for his activism as a student leader. His painted and sculpted works, whose subjects often emerged from this painful personal history, sought to materialize the political struggles and hopes of Salvadoran refugees in a new country. Maria de la Paz, who remained in El Salvador, sewed dolls from used clothing that her son sent back from the States, which were then returned to L.A. and sold to family and friends as part of a booming remittance-based economy. Alongside journalists, activists, and migrants on both sides of the borders, both artists were active participants in the formative stages of a diasporic imaginary that began to grapple with the challenges of post-war reality.
Eddie Rodolfo grew up surrounded by visible and invisible evidence of the Civil War, but with no direct experience of the conflict himself. His own expressive language, which directly engages the neighborhoods he grew up in around Los Angeles, poetically describes how the inherited physical and psychic residue of war and migration directly shapes the present using materials like rubber, pine sap, and found clothing, which have symbolic and practical links to the Salvadoran diaspora. These objects— which the artist refers to as “documents” and which are imprints taken from neighborhood trees— exist somewhere between a print, map, or archive of and for a community for whom history has a long and persistent reach.
My Veins Do Not End In Me takes its name from a line in “Like You” a poem by the foremost Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton. It suggests a subjectivity at the intersection of multiple and contested pasts and presents; a consciousness with responsibilities to both a history and a future beyond the self. Backdropped against a global refugee crisis and the United States’ historical complicity in its creation, My Veins Do Not End In Me dwells in the emotional complications, ruptures of logic, and ideological impasses that accompany difficult— but necessary— reckonings with traumatic pasts.
My Veins Do Not End In Me is organized by The Mistake Room and curated by Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia, TMR Assistant Curator, and Cesar Garcia, TMR Executive & Artistic Director.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Juan Edgar Aparicio (b. 1954, El Salvador) studied architecture and economics at the National University of El Salvador, and Fine Art at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as well as in Los Angeles City College. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Presidential Palace in El Salvador; SPARC in Venice, CA; Museo del Barrio, New York; Self-Help Graphics, Los Angeles; University of California, Santa Barbara; and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, among others. He co-founded several community and arts organizations in Los Angeles, including Los Cipotes and Grupo de Artistas Salvadorenos (GAS), as well as leading a community arts program for Casa Amigos/St. Vincent Medical Center servicing immigrant youth in Westlake/Pico Union. He currently lives and works in El Salvador.
Eddie Aparicio (b. 1990, Los Angeles) received an MFA from Yale University in Painting/Printmaking and a BA from Bard College in Studio Arts. He also studied at Southern California Institute of Architecture. He was a resident at Skowhegan in 2016. He has participated in group exhibitions at Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles and Zeit Contemporary, New York, among others.
Maria de la Paz Torres de Aparicio (b. 1917 and d. 2000, El Salvador) was a skilled seamstress and self-taught artist who created hundreds of dolls in the 1980s and 1990s from the clothing and material that circulated to Central America from the U.S. The dolls were sent to family in Los Angeles where they were sold to raise money to remit to El Salvador. They found homes with families around the city and are gathered at The Mistake Room for their first public exhibition.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Mistake Room's Board of Directors, Big Mistake Patron Group, International Council, and Contemporary Council.
Photo Credit: Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia. Copyright 2018. The Mistake Room Inc.