Past Exhibition: August 7, 2020 – August 29, 2020
Gil Rocha: The Things We Carry
We all carry things, we carry things in pockets and bags, sometimes in baskets and boxes. Most things we carry in our minds, but the ‘heaviest’ things we carry in our hearts.
Gil Rocha (b. 1977) is a contemporary artist born and raised in Laredo, Texas. His art practice in and out of his studio encompasses a variety of techniques, including but not limited to assemblage, painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation. His work expresses the lexicon of the Mexican-American border and the many social/political issues that derive from it. Rocha earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1999. His current body of work takes on an inventive and survivalist approach with a Rascuache aesthetic. Many of his works include a combination of Spanglish text and phrases. Crude looking, yet playful, often his structures are made with a variety of discarded objects. They look familiar and portray narratives of things we carry physically and within.
“I live in the border city of Laredo, Texas. Its commercial downtown area is a few blocks from my residence. Since I was a child, I have visited Downtown Laredo, and each time, it influences and inspires me in many ways. I have seen this part of Laredo change from being lively to lifeless throughout the years. New stores open, but many close, and traffic fluctuates, however, something remains: people carrying things. It gives me great pleasure to observe people and piece fictional stories about them based on how they dress and how they walk, especially how they carry their belongings. I am fascinated and highly influenced, both visually and conceptually, by the carts pushed and pulled by older women to help alleviate the weight of what they transport. These carts range in size but are no larger than a waste container. Many of the people I have observed throughout the years cross from “El Otro Lado.” They come to Laredo, buy their essentials, and return before sundown. Many of my current works conform to imaginary “portraits” based on border personas. Over the past 15 years, drug-related violence has had a significant impact on people’s lives on both sides of the border. As a result, it has left violence and death lingering in everyone’s mind. The feeling of tension and vulnerability is the precise impression I seek to capture in my work, and this is my way of coping with life on the border.”
Rocha has exhibited nationally and internationally, notably The Texas Biennial in Austin, TX (2017), and the Trans-Border Biennial at The El Paso Museum of Art and El Museo de Arte en Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (2018). In addition to his studio practice, Rocha has guest-curated several exhibitions, including Young Latino Artists 23 at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, TX, and a forthcoming exhibition planned to coincide with The Other Border Wall Project at the 937 Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additionally, Rocha has been teaching for 20 years and is currently the painting and drawing instructor at The Vidal M. Treviño School of Communication and Fine Arts. He is also a Board Member of the Laredo Center for the Arts and The Webb County Representative with the Laredo Culture District Project.