Carlos Ramirez:
Altar to a Dream

Retracing the journeys taken in pursuit of the American Dream

LOCATION
1601 Main Street, Dallas, TX
DATES
JAN 29 - FEB 14
LOCAL PBS STATION
KERA

Nomadic laborers have sustained American agriculture for decades. In this colorful homage, a vintage car becomes a symbol of the arduous paths taken by these workers and their families, of what is left behind and what is carried forward.

OVERVIEW

Drawing from his personal and family history, Ramirez’s Altar to a Dream expresses the experience of migrant populations as a central focus. Using his signature bright colors, murals, readymade objects, and neon, he creates both an homage and a space of worship out of the artifacts common to this journey. While his memories are personal, they reflect the risky journey so many immigrants take to fulfill their dreams of a better life in America.

The vehicle’s bodywork is covered in text, drawings and mixed-media ephemera, with a stack of personal effects on the roof. The whole piece will ultimately be encased in a vitrine, presenting these everyday objects as archeological artifacts, encouraging us to see them not as detritus but as sacred items of great cultural value, each representing a unique story.

Look Behind the Scenes.

This is the 1951 studebaker found in Yucca Valley, CA. This is the exact make and model Carlos’ parents navigated to the United States in, while following the agricultural work routes in the early 1950s.
One of the few scale models conceptualized for the full scale installation in Dallas.
Placement of a crosshatched rendering on the studebaker window. Carlos reflecting on the many trips he took with his parents; “Looking out the windows and letting my imagination go wild, and of how many other children did the same thing, I thought filling all of the windows with images was a great way to represent that.” 
This crosshatch image was placed on the vehicle door where Carlos' father sat. Taken from an old photograph of him at the age of 19.
Traveling in mid-century America was never a sure or safe thing. Carlos imagined it like; “Crossing a checker board and thought this 100 year old checker board represented the era and areas perfectly, so I added St. Christopher, the patron St. for travelers”. 
An altar Carlos composed using some of the items used by his parents and and other items of the same era. These will be used in the installation – to get a better understanding of not only the process but what it may have been like.

Meet the Artist.

Carlos Ramirez

Painter, Sculptor, Muralist, storyteller focused on the migrant worker experience. Based in Indio, California.

Carlos Ramirez's (b. 1967) painting and sculpture examines the inequalities within Mexican American communities and champions the common man. His work is resourceful, scavenging for creative materials in the desert, and complex, building layers and textures to disguise the political within the popular. Materials include house paint, sparkly stickers, handwritten bilingual text, rusted bottle caps, discarded packaging, and stylized acrylic painting with deeply layered figurative workings. Snakes, spiders, scorpions, and other natural elements from his hometown are mixed with Catholic symbolism, aliens, gang members, pop-culture references and commercial imagery. His paintings continue to evolve, retaining magical allure while becoming denser and more meaningful.

Carlos creates paintings and assemblages steeped in California’s Mexican-American experience, referencing street art, Mexican Revolution posters, and popular tropes of Hollywood and the media. Carlos was part of a collaborative called The Date Farmers.

Carlos Ramirez lives and works in Coachella, California and is represented by New Image Art Gallery and ACE Gallery. Instagram @c.ramirez2323 (open on instagram in a new window).

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