Telling Stories through Chicano Art. The Vibrant Collages of Life - by a prisoner on San Quentin's death row
"Warning" - by Luis Maciel
"Warning" - by Luis Maciel
"One thing I learned in prison is that you must find a hobby. If not, you're doomed". says Luis Maciel, who was sentenced to death in 1998 and who is incarcerated on San Quentin's death row. "Listen, I love to draw. Art is my thing. I wake up thinking about art, I go to sleep thinking about my new project". Luis Maciel has been drawing for over 30 years. He started expressing himself through his drawings when he was in Youth Authority which is prison for youngsters
Luis creates Chicano Artwork, "artwork created by Americans of Mexican descent, Chicano art came out of the Chicano movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the art of struggle" read more here.
Luis has explained that creating his vibrant collages helps him to make sense of his environment. He uses pen and markers, and he can easily spend up to seven hours a day drawing. One drawing can take several weeks such is the detail – and it is all done freehand. “Art for me is an adventure in my personal life. Every drawing that I draw has so many stories to them”. Here are some of the drawings that Luis has created from his cell in San Quentin.
"The World is My Ghetto" - by Luis Maciel
Luis explains the meaning of his artwork "The World is my Ghetto":
"This one I called "The World is my Ghetto". First you must know what a Ghetto is. It is a life of struggles and sadness with a lot of violence. But there is a part of the Ghetto that's good friends and family. We all try to remove the violence from our Ghettos but we succumb to the bad life. In this drawing I'm bringing the good in,and taking out the bad. Let's start with the front. In this life there is a male alpha and he represents everything. The two standing besides him are his protectors. In this case it will be my mother and father. We must always protect the woman from any bad influence. That is the duty of a brother. The two cars - the blue one with "City of Angels" on it, that is my car. We call in slang Los Angeles, "City of Angels". The other car was my friend's car. He had "Califas". Califas is slang for California. I hold this car in high regards since my friend was killed in the Ghetto. The woman on the stair rail represents hell. Since we cannot see any sunshine we are stuck in this life of "Hell". Im speaking since I'm behind bars, this place is hell. The girl on top of her, she has two women. The women represent her ears. The woman on her right is the good, the woman on her left is the bad one. On top of her head, she has a fuse. On top of her you have Minnie Mouse. She wants the girl coming out of the wall which is again Hell. She is hoping that she could touch her nose so that she could bring her to goodness. The face on top is what I call a true woman. She is a fighter and she represents all mothers out there that suffer for their loved ones. The woman that has her hand on her chest - her nails are being impaled in her skin. She bleeds roses since roses are the most beautiful thing in the world. Her nail goes through her skin where she gave life. That's why the man is holding the rose. The guy holding the pencil, that's my hand. I'm bringing in the life of good and bad, plus I'm using the ghetto ink where I'm shown the art. This is why I call my drawing "The World is my Ghetto".
"AZTLAN" - by Luis Maciel
I dedicate this drawing to my family from my culture called "P E T A T L A N" which dates back many generations. Our culture was started by my 27 generation family. We were wanderers that travelled our land until our homestead was built by my true ancestors. We cherish our own beliefs in which I can say Im the 30s generation of this culture. Our homestead comes from our women who give life and who teach our young ones the basic concept of life. We believe every woman must be treated with loyalty and honour. Let this drawing find your own love ones where you can cherish them.
"Fire and Desire" - by Luis Maciel
Luis says of "Fire and Desire" - "This drawing reminds me of that song by Rick James and Tina Marie. I dedicate this drawing to all the beautiful women who find themselves working hard to support their family. Many women work many fields in society and we should be proud of our women. Mothers, sisters, aunties. Whoever you are and whatever your role is, I say you are my Rock and Roll Gangsters. Your true life is always treasured by your true loved ones. To all my Fire and Desire women - I honour you with this drawing".
"LOVED" - by Luis Maciel
Luis says this about "Loved" :-
Life has many obstacles and we are always trying to find that something that wakes our heart. If we do not find it, the reason is that have been moving too fast in life. Then when we do eventually find it, we do not know how to keep hold of it. Then we start finding other things that we believe is LOVE. So then we go through so many obstacles, that when we finally figure out that what we had was true love, we kick ourselves in the ass! Love can be found in almost anything but true love is hard to find. When you find it, get ahold of it, before you turn to "L O V E D".
"Wicked Ways" - by Luis Maciel
"Wicked Ways" - Luis says - "I was reading this magazine and I read this article about mad women. It was about women who cherish their lifestyle by partying and having lots of fun on the streets. So it just popped into my head - "Wicked Ways". Then I thought to myself, I have to draw this idea whilst it is fresh in my mind. That is when I woke up the drawing that was already done in my brain. The word "Quilmas" is slang from back in the 70s,and that is what they used to call San Quentin. Lots of my older homeboys back in my time had that tattoo on their back. They would sit there and tell us stories about San Quentin. Both of the women in the drawing has a name. One is "Demon", and the other is "Vixen"
"The Struggle" - by Luis Maciel
"I love to draw. Sometimes I just go on drawing for hours and hours"
San Quentin death row
Artist, Mudlark & passionate about helping prisoners on death row to share their artwork and creative writing