Artist Statement: Behind the beautiful flora of the Latin American tropics lies a history of cuts and sharp edges.
The saying “a machete se abre camino” (the machete carves a path) implies struggle for liberation and change. The machete sows the person who uses it back into the soil and becomes an extension of their arm, allowing them to be nurtured by Her. However, the machete is not only an agricultural tool but a weapon and symbol of revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean.
From the “negros macheteros” that escaped their plantations in sixteenth century Caribbean, to the indigenous insurrections throughout Latin America, to the modern day “Macheteros,” (Boricua Popular Army) to the sugar cane and banana plantation workers who rebelled against labor oppression of companies like United Fruit Company. The machete has symbolically and literally led the resistance for a people who feel connected to their land and fight for their rights against imperialism and environmental degradation.
Today in the United States, the vision of the future for the immigrant families who escaped this oppression is uncertain. Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, US-born Latin American labor leaders, co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW), and used non-violent methods to organize and fight for the rights of migrant farm workers. They have planted the seeds of revolution, urging future generations to seek dignified life and work, and to remain connected with the land. This piece is for them.
*Pictured on the Machete: Nina Gualinga, young woman indigenous leader from the Kichwa community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition is a six-week exhibit of 13 contemporary Philly-based artists installed at 13 locations across Philadelphia’s Historic District. Exploring the spirit of revolution, the artists chosen for #RevolutionaryArt are looking at the world around us with a critical eye and creating works of art that challenge the political and social status quo. Commissioned by Visit Philly and curated by StreetsDept.com’s Conrad Benner, more on the exhibition – including a map of all the installations – can be found here!