2023 Contest

Making Work Visible

City University of New York / Labor Arts

Kelly Arteaga

Visual Arts  Second PlaceKelly Arteaga Art, Brooklyn College
Opportunities, Gratitude, and Burdens
acrylic paint and ink on paper, H 12” W 9”

In the mixed media work entitled “Opportunities, Gratitude, and Burdens,” I portray myself holding an image of my mother carrying an infant version of myself. This work goes beyond simply depicting the relationship between a mother and her daughter and shares the Labor Arts spirit by exploring my own experience as a person coming from an immigrant family and using that experience to depict the shared experience of granted opportunities, gratitude, and burdens. At first glance, the contrast between ink and acrylic paint is clear. There are two intentions behind it. To begin with, the colors of the painting and the imagery surrounding the figure are intended to convey my gratitude for my Mexican-American identity and the opportunities it has provided me. Second, the ink-drawn figure, although smiling softly, carries a sense of melancholy, even a burden, because, as someone accepted into the American labor system, I am subject to certain obligations due to my Mexican identity. My first obligation is to repay my mother’s efforts in raising her family as a single mother. My second obligation is to demonstrate to society that I can succeed even with disadvantages that society emphasizes, such as growing up without a father figure, coming from an immigrant family and a low-income background. The intent of this work is to be an example to others like me to not hesitate to reach our goals that are not only a way of being grateful for our parents, but also a way to be grateful for ourselves.