It’s the Real Thing! Hispanics Will Fill 75% of New US Jobs Between 2020 and 2034,

Linda Vallejo

Repurposed vintage glass, enamel, acrylic, wood | Vidrio de época reutilizado, esmalte, acrílico y madera
69.85 x 17.78 Ø cm (27.5 x 7 Ø in)
Collection of the artist | Colección del artista
Photo courtesy of the artist | Imagen cortesía del artista

Artist’s Statement

Brown Belongings, a body of work focusing on the politics of color and class, represents ten years of concentrated work visualizing what it means to be a person of color in the United States. These works reflect what I call my “brown intellectual property”—the experiences, knowledge, and feelings I have gathered over four decades of study in Chicano/a and American Indigenous communities. As a part of the Brown Belongings body of work I began researching and using data to create images. Latinos had long been talking about their growing population and how this growth should be accompanied by increased prosperity and influence. I wondered if this growth was actually changing attitudes about color and class—and our place in the “American Dream.”

The result was The Brown Dot Project, a set of “data pictographs” on gridded vellum in which brown dots represent statistics. These works reflect diverse types of data including the Latino proportion of city and state populations, and their presence in professional fields. The project has proven time-consuming and mentally strenuous: I first count the number of boxes in an area of gridded vellum, multiply this number by the percentage to be represented, and then “brown” dot the appropriate number of boxes to signify the data set.

The title Brown Belongings highlights the fact that these works “belong” to me. Yet it also refers to my search for a place to “belong”. I found my place in the Chicano/a and Indigenous communities artistically, intellectually, and culturally. In painting objects brown, I become like a child who paints her dolls so they can be like her, so they can belong with and to each other. It also speaks to “longing” as a part of “belonging.” I “long” to find a visual language that will open a dialogue about how Latinos see ourselves, how others see us, and how we can find understanding and joy in both our differences and our similarities.