Whether painting her friends or Morrissey, Shizu Saldamando draws on the rich tradition of Chicano activism to create her unique blend of pop culture. She has exhibited her work in both painting and experimental media exhibitions through out the country and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Shizuís work can be seen in Phantom Sightings currently exhibiting at the LACMA in Los Angeles.
How did the Chicano activism in San Francisco inspire your art?
I was raised on 24th street and Alabama which is in the center of Galeria de La Raza, Studio 24, Mission Cultural Center, Balmy Alley and countless other art spots that have come and gone in the Mission District. Just by walking to school in the morning, I was exposed to countless murals, and happenings around the neighborhood. The Mission Cultural Center always put on plays, had art openings, and art workshops. As it was the 80ís, most of it was very politically inspired work commenting on the UFW strikes, Central American wars, Nuclear Disarmament, etc. I think this also has to do with the climate of San Francisco in general, and how in the Mission district there is this whole community of progressive artists and activists that live for social change. My parents took me to protests it seemed like every weekend. Both parents are still activists, back then, my mom being a community organizer and my dad being a political asylum lawyer for Catholic Charities. Even in high school I was an organizer as well working in the community at such places like Youth Making a Change, or the Student Empowerment Project. So for me, from the beginning, art was always rooted in a very heavy political context.
Punk rock and Chicano culture have had a profound influence on your paintings. What are some of your style cues?