Today we’d like to introduce you to Armando Guadalupe Cortes.
Armando Guadalupe, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I don’t think my story is necessarily unique. There are millions who, like me, left their home for new beginnings. In my case, I was born and raised in Urequío, a small farming community in Michoacán, México. Once I was brought here, I grew up in the industrial town of Wilmington, CA. My family was a typical working-class family; both parents worked, their livelihood tied to the port of Los Angeles and other industry.
We were fortunate enough to be able to travel back home during the summers and so growing up I saw two very different worlds, each of which informs my practice today. While happy, my parents wanted more for us and so they placed a strong emphasis on education. For that reason, my siblings and I strived for all that we could. I attended UCLA while others siblings went on to USC and UCB amongst other schools. In short, we were a prototypical working-class immigrant family with deep roots in their home country and new roots spreading here in the US. We continue to make the best of the opportunities fate affords us. What sets my story apart is how I choose to relate and make it believable.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
As I mentioned, what makes my story unique is the way in which I choose to present it, that is, my art. I draw inspiration from every aspect of my two vastly different worlds: sights, history, sounds, routines, smells, faiths, fables… My work can perhaps be broken down into two overlapping categories: the physical and the magical.
My works are often an exploration of labor and repetition in both my mechanized and my rural surroundings. Of utmost interest are the endurance and resilience of the communities within these two settings as they face their everyday struggle. These explorations, however, are not done from afar. They are realized through an up close, metaphorical and, often times, physical walk in another’s shoes. My sculpture and performance work are highly influenced by personal as well as collective experience communicated to me through my parents and elders in my community as well as through collective and genetic memory.
It is this collective experience that leads into the magical. As an avid reader of magical realism, my work is highly influenced and explained by the genre. Beyond the idea stepping into another’s shoes, my work is an exploration of what could have been, who I could have been, and who I actually am. These three elements are not always distinct. In exploring the experiences of others, I inadvertently live out instances of their lives only to find that they become part of my own life for having done so. It is this overlapping that most interests me since, the means to an end are often as important, if not more so, than the finished product. The distinction between the two is blurred making them interchangeable.
That said, I often present work in various stages of production and interaction. Each reiteration holds its ground as a distinct art piece while not denying its past use or hinting at future endeavor. I presents myself likewise; each new work and performance and the process leading up to it become a genuine experience that I carry with me and that plant the seeds for future enquiry and work. Each work is an attempt at making some aspect of my story, our story, more believable.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
I think the biggest challenge artists face today (or at any other time) is complacency. As creators, inventors, and fabricators of the tangible and intangible, we have always found the means to propagate ideas and ideals. Both in our work and the worlds around us, complacency inhibits progress.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The best way to see my work is in person. That however can be a challenge. The next best thing for my art as well as news about upcoming shows and performances is Instagram. You can follow me @armandogcortes
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/armandogcortes/