Art+Politics+History+Culture

Artist Profile: Marianne Sadowski

Marianne Sadowski was born in Mexico City to a German father and a Mexican mother. As an undergraduate she studied communications and film, and she received a graduate degree in art from the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City, the oldest art academy and art museum in the Americas. In the late 1990’s, her husband, a photojournalist for the Associated Press was transferred to Los Angeles, so they moved to the community of Echo Park where they have lived ever since. There was a lot of resistance to move to Los Angeles because of the glamorous image exported to the world, considering she had been living in Chiapas and covering the Zapatista uprising prior to the transition. Upon arrival she was well received and began working in different art workshops, and was immediately thrust into the landscape amongst Mexicans from all over the country, other Latin Americans, and for the first time began to observe Mexico as an outsider. This phenomenon was quite nurturing in fact because of the centralization of Mexico City and she better understood why people left their home, how they lived, and she learned to appreciate their struggle. It helped her see Mexico from a different perspective and the relationship and duality that develops as a result.

Trade and labor concerns have caused a severe diaspora community of Mexicans to the United States, and smaller communities in Canada, Spain, and England. The children born in those countries to Mexican parents, as well as the immigrants, must then learn to assimilate to the dominant culture while trying to relate to their historical past. Some struggle to identify with one culture, some with both, while also receiving a backlash in both areas. For example, in Mexico they call us traders, gringos, and pochos, while in the U.S. we are considered illegals, beaners, and wetbacks. Marianne can identify with this struggle well because she too has a mixed background, more so because she is blonde with green eyes which becomes questionable for people. Fluent in Spanish, English, and German, and learning to see the world from different lenses, she has come to see the isolation of Mexicans in the United States as enriching and unique and hopes that it becomes more normal on a global scale.

Marianne has been involved in art organizations like Plaza de la Raza, Tropico de Nopal Gallery, and Self-Help Graphics, exhibiting her works, teaching art, and participating in printmaking workshops. She joined Los De Abajo, a printmaking collective which focuses on dialogue and art around social issues, which she helped influence the idea for artists to start a piece and let another finish as a true collaborative effort to create monumental and more large-scale works. Some of the issues they have addressed are the women of Juarez, water as a privatized commodity, the capitalist crisis, and prison conditions. The latter reflects the archaic interpretation of crime and imprisonment which extends to the society at large where it transcends beyond physical walls and we as people create our own barriers and self-imposed limitations. Working with a positive and negative space in the abstract, her work challenges the limit of the carceral state to allow the mind to develop freely even though the body is constrained. Her bold imagery uses random numbers to identify subjects as a reflection of how society perceives us and silhouettes to show the anonymity of the prison system. Her next work will focus on international borders and individual space as a territorial constraint similar to prison and society.

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