Printmaking: Lithograph on Paper.
"El Salvador Presente" was a drawing I created in 1992 after El Salvador's civil war came to an end. The drawing was a visual summation of my attitude towards that Central American nation's long and bloody conflict. I made my drawing with black color pencils on textured handmade paper, producing an artwork that looks like a classical lithographic print. Being satisfied with the drawing I decided to publish it as an actual lithograph.
The limited edition of twenty lithographic prints was hand-pulled by master-printer John Greco at his Josephine Press print shop in Santa Monica, California. Greco transferred my drawing to a metal plate, and pulled the edition on beautiful, deckle edge heavy white paper (acid free) using Dan Smith traditional relief ink. All prints are embossed in the lower right corner with the Josephine Press logo.
My Lithograph depicts Salvadorans in protest, carrying Christian funeral crosses in honor of those killed in the war. The crosses are emblazoned with traditional Salvadoran folk art and one bears the name, Arnulfo Romero. Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador who was shot to death by a right-wing death squad on March 24, 1980 while celebrating mass. Romero was murdered one day after giving a sermon where he called upon Salvadoran soldiers to stop the repression against the people and to respect their basic human rights.
"Presente" (Present), is a word called out in remembrance; it is a way of expressing profound respect, or to show that a person's spirit is still with us.
At the center of the drawing is a young woman who wears a t-shirt decorated with the words, FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), the leftwing guerillas that in 1992 transformed themselves into an electoral party. They won the historic Presidential elections of March, 2009, bringing the FMLN’s candidate, Mauricio Funes to the presidency.
Without a doubt the war in El Salvador changed the face of Los Angeles, some 2 million Salvadoreños now live in the U.S., with most of them calling L.A. home. It may appear that my drawing portrays a historic demonstration in a Salvadoran city like Chalatenango, Soyapango, or Zacatecoluca, but in reality all of my models were Salvadoreños living in Los Angeles; the tableau presented was in fact based upon the antiwar protests of Salvadorans I witnessed in L.A. during the war years.
In 1994 "El Salvador Presente" (El Salvador is present) was published as a front cover for the independent political journal, CrossRoads, along with the following statement from me:
"Over the years I have learned many invaluable lessons from the Salvadoran people - lessons concerning what it means to love and sacrifice for a community, about the indispensability of culture in that struggle, lessons regarding faith and irrepressible human spirit. This work expresses the gratitude and indebtedness I feel for receiving these gifts."
Keywords: printmaking, war, black and white , Political Art, El Salvador, lithograph