My first exposure to Michael Menchaca’s work was at an SGCI portfolio viewing in St. Louis (see this post). A crowd of people were gathered around his table admiring his brightly-colored silkscreens. I was pleasantly surprised at the time to learn that he was in the BFA program down the road from Austin at Texas State University. In the few years since then, Menchaca has graduated and continued to develop an ambitious body of work. He’s also been pretty busy exhibiting throughout Texas and beyond.
The Laguna Gloria exhibition simply titled, New Works, features Menchaca’s screenprints as well as a sculptural painting and a five-minute video animation. The works reflect the cultural mash-up I’ve come to expect from Menchaca. The pictorial influences are expansive and that’s one of the things that attracts me to the work. From Meso-American and Latino iconography to modern day screen savers and cartoons, the imagery references an endless array of visual culture but the results are a unified and coherent vision.
In Codex Migratus, an older body of work not on view, Menchaca explores power dynamics of migration in a way reminiscent of Layla Ali. Anthropomorphic animals play the role of attacker and victim, guard and prisoner, citizen and alien. Flat colors starkly contrast with simplified depictions of torture and abuse. In New Works, Menchaca veers from these narrative depictions to something more abstract. Stylistically similar, the new screenprints are rendered in the homogenous lines of Adobe Illustrator, but the subject appears to be spiritual violence. Rather than the migrant’s physical hurdles, Menchaca turns his eye to the internal dilemma.
The subject is rich and full of possibilities. I look forward to seeing more of Menchaca’s explorations.
ANTHROPOS, Serigraphy, 19″ X 50″, 2012.
FLORALIA & PRIMIFORMIS, Serigraphy, 19″ X 50″, 2012.
MEGAFAUNA I, Serigraphy, 19″ X 50″, 2012.
Excerpts from Creatio Episodium Megafauna I, 2012, Digital Animation.
A beautiful winter day at Laguna Gloria overlooking Town Lake.Bookmark / Share / Print