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Artists You Should Know

Immigrants have long come to the United States seeking abundance, a better economic opportunity or liberation from religious and political circumscriptions. As an essential element of the development of the nation, economically and socially, the country has relied on the constant flow of newcomers to diversify society and boost the economy. Unfortunately, in times of unrest abroad and internal economic struggles, anti-immigrant sentiments arise. It is easy to blame the foreigner when we fail, rather than studying policy decisions that have led us to those failures. Neither Native Americans (the original founders) nor African slaves were even considered citizens, and early on it was a question of whether the United States was a country of many or a nationality of one specific group.

After the Mexican War in 1848, the United States claimed the territory that now includes California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Utah and Nevada. The Mexicans in these areas had the choice to return to Mexico or remain living in what was considered the United States. Most did not return, and the United States did not enforce any border laws on them. Such a lack of structure birthed a culture of “straddlers” working and living across the border. In the early decades of the 1900s, Mexican immigration into the United States rose dramatically as the demand for cheap U.S. labor grew once Chinese and Japanese immigrants were excluded from working here. Mexican workers were at a great disadvantage, however, as they had no working rights. Braceros from Central America, comprising the largest minority group in California (more than four million), left their families behind and came to work in the Steinbeckian fields of scarce resources and racial anxieties, citizens and non-citizens alike facing indiscriminate repatriation to Mexico.

Los Angeles artist Cintia Alejandra Segovia relocated from Mexico City in 2009. She informs, advises and instructs her audience about underprivileged circumstances and situational risks that affect the diverse groups of refugees, expatriates and newly adopted citizens of this city. By employing mass media via commercials, news and variety programming, Segovia uses sub-plotting humor and jabs to address the real-life issues of immigration, cultural stereotypes, identity and multilingual life, but keeps the ball in cue for needed reform: www.cintiasegovia.com. (KG)

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Max Presneill & Kio Griffith from ARTRA Curatorial is a volunteer organization for the implementation of new modes of exhibition, locally, nationally and internationally, that feature artist-led emerging platforms and opportunity based interactions and community building via social practice type events. Founded in 2009, the group has instigated large scale art events and exchanges, as well as the alternative art fair Co/Lab, throughout Los Angeles and has new projects being presented in China, France and UK in 2014, as well as the continuation of their MAS ATTACK series of events both in LA and other US cities.

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