Juan Hinojosa: Paradise City

March 11 - June 11, 2023

Juan Hinojosa’s work is informed by his family’s immigrant experience. The lush colors and riotous imagery belie a sense of longing for comfort and acceptance. Hinojosa’s collaged figures are travelers from another world. Their collaged bodies are complex and layered. The mixed media from which they are made prompt us to look closely and to acknowledge the various elements that make them unique individuals, rather than simply accepting the standard story of the immigrant experience often conveyed in the media.

These travelers’ limbs and features are cobbled together from materials Hinojosa finds in catalogs, on the street, and in the subways of New York City. Hinojosa often uses handmade paper or simple domestic wallpaper as the background for his work, giving his characters a soft landing, a place where they can belong. Small sculptures and canvases embellished with buttons, badges, and various trimmings resemble artifacts that Hinojosa’s figures might have carried with them on their journeys as tokens and mementos of home. Or perhaps the figures have collected these small objects in their new environments, as they have tried to make sense of their new surroundings and build their new lives. 

— Sarah Freeman, curator

A search for a new home can open the door to a whole new world and unexpected change. Many immigrant families come to the United States. Here, the children of immigrants are often the ones caught in the middle, between two cultures, languages, and national identities.

My parents are Peruvian immigrants who struggled to assimilate to the American way of life while trying their best to keep their native cultural traditions alive. During this assimilation, I started to collect ready-made objects that represented the United States or at least the idea of the American dream.

Where I grew up in New York City, there is a large amount of trash everywhere. I have collected broken jewelry, random playing cards, used lottery tickets, toys, and many other objects off the streets. The amount of good trash out there has changed the way I view New York. The city can be a gold mine if you look hard enough. Collecting trash has also led me to re-examine my own trash production and consumerist behavior. Buying what you cannot afford has become the American way of life. It is effectively killing the middle class. We are all victims of chasing the American dream.

I am a firm believer that everything deserves a second chance to become something else. My collection of ready-made objects grows constantly, and my studio practice revolves around what I find. Currently, the line between what I need and what I find seems fuzzy. My studio has become a hoarder’s dream and my personal sanctuary. My obsessive-compulsive need to consume is my way of feeling attached to my surroundings, my new belongings, and perhaps what it means to be an American.

— Juan Hinojosa

The artist would like to thank the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Governors Island Residency Initiative, the Studios at Mass MoCA residency program, and the Dieu Donné Workspace residency. Without programs and opportunities like these, the work in this exhibition would not have been possible.




March 11, Saturday, 11 a.m. — Celebration of Spring Exhibits
May 4, Thursday, 7 p.m. — Storytelling Roundtable


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