Last night, my husband and I watched John Leguizamo’s new Netflix special, “Latin History For Morons”. Definitely a must watch for everyone. I personally have reached a breaking point lately with what Leguizamo describes as “ghetto rage”.
When I was growing up, my Mexican grandfather taught me about our family history. He happened to be a doctor but he was an artist at heart, and he came from a long line of proud Mexican artists. He taught me ways to work around my physical limitations, so that I could still create art in my own way. He taught me about how Frida Kahlo worked through chronic pain and health problems, which fueled her artistic passion.
I specifically planned my studio garden in a design that would allow me to shoot outdoors, even when my physical pain was at its most limiting. I selected plants that would work well with our climate here in California, and that would reflect my own multi-cultural family heritage. Many of my plants are native to either Mexico or California.
I have filled parts of the garden with Mexican decor because that reminds me of my family’s artistic lineage, and I find that incredibly inspiring. Over the years, I have silently grimaced as clients have butchered the pronunciation of my name, calling me ALISHA when I have clearly explained that my name is Alicia, with the Spanish pronunciation. I have bit my tongue when clients have insulted the Mexican decor in my greenhouse and patio or questioned why I have so many Mexican plants, with that attitude of “EWW WHY.” I have held back because I don’t want to appear to be a hothead or fuel stereotypes. I know I may not necessarily “look Mexican” so often times people think it’s acceptable to dump out racists garbage when they come here for a photo session. It is completely and absolutely unacceptable, and I will no longer tolerate this behavior from clients.
My great-grandfather and his brother were some of the most widely respected artists in Hollywood many years ago. They created the artwork for King Kong and Citizen Cane, plus many more movies, murals, etc. Their artwork was actually an important early inspiration for Frida Kahlo, which leaves me in awe. I am extremely proud that I came from a family of Mexican-American artists. Anyone who cares to question me on that going forward can deal with my rage.
If you would like to learn more about my family’s artistic lineage, search online for Juan and Mario Larrinaga. I’m holding my great-uncle Mario’s camera here. It’s incredibly special to me. I’m very grateful that many of my own personal Latin American heros happen to be from my very own family tree.