Valdez’s lithograph depicts one of his friends as a floating or ascending figure against a white background. The figure’s pose refers to a historical photograph of a lynching of a Latino man in Texas, little-known crimes which occurred for almost 100 hundred years from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Accompanying the figure is a text in Spanish and English of the poem Strange Fruit by Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan) written and performed in the mid-to-late 1930s, most famously by Billie Holiday, as a protest song about racism and the lynching of African Americans in the United States. Valdez changed the words to reflect his Texas context, and the owner of the piece can choose to display the text with either language right side up.
Born 1977, San Antonio, Texas Valdez grew up in San Antonio, TX and demonstrated talent for drawing at an early age. He received a full scholarship to The Rhode Island School of Design where he earned his BFA in 2000. The Strangest Fruit is a series of large paintings that is inspired by the lost/erased history of lynched Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the state of Texas from the late 1800′s well into the 1930′s. The subject of Latino lynchings is almost entirely unknown, unheard, and unspoken of in the United States. Although this subject is inspired by a specific history, Valdez was more concerned with identifying and creating images that speak of the present.
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