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Claudia Patricia Gómez González (Reminder to Remember)

Patrick Martinez2018

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
Washington, D.C., United States

Merging painting, sculpture, and installation, Patrick Martinez explores multicultural coexistence, conflict, and inequality in the United States. His work Claudia Patricia Gómez González (Reminder to Remember) memorializes a twenty-year-old Guatemalan Maya woman; in May 2018, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent allegedly shot her in Rio Bravo, Texas. In the words of the artist: “Gómez González traveled 1,500 miles from her homeland in pursuit of the elusive American Dream. It is imperative to recover these all too common narratives.”

Martinez depicts Gómez González emerging from a surface of chaotic pink and yellow brushstrokes. As in every press image reporting her death, Gómez González appears wearing her colorful huipil, a traditional indigenous garment. Black spray paint stains her body, evoking her death. For the artist, the power of portraiture to elevate a person provides the opportunity for a communal act of remembrance and healing.

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