Make Tacos Not War,

Alejandro Diaz

Neon on clear plexiglass | ​​Neón sobre plexiglás transparente
17.7 x 162.5 x 7.6 cm (7 x 64 x 3 in)
Collection of the artist | Colección del artista
Photo courtesy of the artist | Imagen cortesía del artista

Artist’s Statement

In art school in the late ’80s we would take part in critiques, discussing each other’s work, the professor giving the final verdict. No matter how brilliant or terrible the art, there was never a word on how we were supposed to make a living making this brilliant or terrible work.

It was a sobering moment when, in 1999, I decided to move to New York City to work as an artist.  The rent was $700 a month and I had found a job that paid exactly that—nothing more.  I even gave away my goldfish for fear I could not feed it.

Since I had boxes from the move, I decided to use the cardboard to make funny cardboard signs to sell to passersby in Manhattan’s upscale shopping district.  I soon found the signs sold and that I now had money for groceries, art supplies, drinks, and subway fare!  

Resourcefulness was the lesson learned not taught in art school.  Significantly, as I continued making these signs the humor became infused with politics, artworld commentary, and socio-economic issues of concern.

My sayings would later be translated into neon, another form of signage as ubiquitous as cardboard signs.