Ojalá is a project by Mexican-American artists Mauricio Cortes Ortega and Maria de Los Angeles. Both artists immigrated to the United States in their early childhood and make work that deals with identity and migration. Under the current Presidency, migrants from Mexico have been singled out and targeted through verbal and legal attacks. Roughly 700,000 young immigrants have been fighting to maintain their status Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act. The lives of this generation of citizens has been threatened recently as the current administration has fought to end DACA, resulting in deporting thousands of young people to countries where they may or may not have family, friends, or be able to continue their careers. Further, a new wall along the Mexico-United States border has been proposed as way to keep out future generations of immigrants. The wall acts as a visual manifestation of xenophobia and acts as a personification of separation.
Ojalá, which roughly translates to “hopefully” is a project that imagines the wall as a liminal space. The drawings of de Los Angeles portray migration, figures striving for a better future and hope for humanity. Cortes Ortega’s ceramic sculptures reference capirotes, a Spanish headdress dating back to the Inquisition, which in their reinterpretation reference the inevitable transformation of objects due to colonialism and immigration. The sculptures set against de Los Angeles’ drawings suggest a dialogue between the origins of contemporary issues surrounding immigration and the current ramifications of negotiating the U.S. Mexico border.
Maria de Los Angeles, (b.1988, Michoacán, Mexico) is a multidisciplinary artist primarily working with drawing and painting. De Los Angeles addresses migration, displacement, identity and otherness through incorporating drawing, painting, performance art and fashion.
She holds an associate’s degree in painting from Santa Rosa Junior College (2010), a BFA from Pratt Institute (2013), and a MFA from Yale School of Art (2015). Maria has been recognized for the work she has done creating arts programs for youth, receiving the Community Action Partnership award, and the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize, awarded for her artwork and role in her community. She was an artist in residence at El Museo del Barrio and Mana Contemporary.
Recent exhibitions include Solo at Schneider Museum of Art, Internalized Borders at John Jay College, Citizen at St. John’s University, and Half Human at The Clemente. Her work is currently on view in the exhibition A Universal History of Infamy: those of this America curated by Vincent Ramos, She is the co-curator for Internalized Borders.
De Los Angeles is a visiting instructor in painting and drawing at Pratt institute.
See more of Maria’s work on Instagram: @delosangeleart
Mauricio Cortes Ortega is an artist and educator. Born in northern Mexico, Cortes moved to the United States in the 1990’s. Mauricio is interested in re-contextualizing materials and imagery from stateside nationalism and Mexican folklore in order to explore the complexity of identity.
Mauricio received his B.F.A. from The Cooper Union and his M.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University School of Art in 2016. He is the 2018 Smelser Vallion Visiting Artist at the Doel Reed Art Center in New Mexico. He was a guest speaker at Contemporary Crossroads II Yale Alumni Conference in Miami (2017), the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Artist Community Grant NYC in 2017, and the Schell Center for international Human Rights Travel fellowship Yale Law School in 2015. He was the recipient of the Jóvenes Creadores Mexican National Council for Culture and Arts painting fellowship in 2013, the Menschel Travel Fellowship Award and the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Painting Fellowship in 2011. Mauricio Cortes currently lives and works in New York City.
Olivia Gauthier is completing her MA in Art History at Hunter College. She is a freelance writer and curator, her work has been featured in Hyperallergic and BOMB Magazine.