Luis Sahagun’s drawings, sculptures, paintings, and performances confront the palpable inescapability of race and transforms art into an act of cultural reclamation. Like DNA strings of mestizaje, his practice metaphorically represents contradiction — indian/conqueror, violence/unity, and ancient/contemporary. His work embodies a visual language of cultural resistance that counters the traditional white, male, heterosexual art historical canon.
Latinx art perspectives have been historically marginalized in the U.S., a country that traditionally describes itself as white and black. However, mestizo or brown experiences offer new understandings of the United States’ past, present, & future. Consequently, Sahagun aims to contribute to alternative Latinx narratives with his own stories: (1) personal reasons for which his family immigrated to this country, (2) growing up with struggles of cultural and spiritual disconnect, and (3) surviving in communities that are victimized by gang and gun related violence. Sahagun spotlights the importance of Latinx cultures and contributions in order to combat the anti-immigration and anti-Latinx national rhetoric that persists throughout the country.
As a previously undocumented immigrant and former laborer, Sahagun’s art seeks to reveal the aesthetics of relocation and transgenerational trauma by utilizing building materials such as silicone, lumber, drywall, concrete, and hardware as symbols that represent working class immigrants in this country. These atypical art mediums mix with other non-conventional materials such as beads, rope, and jute to create paintings and wearable sculptures that function as surrogate ancestors. As the grandson of a curandera, Sahagun transforms his art making into a mystical instrument that forges a pre-columbian spiritual connection in order to heal wounds of conquest, colonization, and capitalism. His art stands out as a conduit for re-imagining possible futures or alternate realities through a multi-angled lense.