North Texas Daily

University art senior sources inspiration from experiences as DACA student

University art senior sources inspiration from experiences as DACA student

University art senior sources inspiration from experiences as DACA student
November 13
12:00 2022

Working with mediums like concrete and watercolors, studio art senior Jose Vazques uses his art to convey themes of immigration, cultural identity and liminality — struggles he and his Mexican family have all experienced since immigrating to the United States.

Vazques, who started studio art at 13, has always been creating, his sister, Nancy Galvon, 31, said. Galvon said being a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals student who came to the U.S. at 2 years old, the death of his mother and the trials of immigration have shaped Vazques’ art.

“I feel like his art reflects a lot about what we don’t talk about,” Galvon said. “All of that made him realize what it is and how hard it is to come up here and immigrate.” 

Vazques himself considers his father to be one of his greatest inspirations.

“He came into this country with literally nothing but a positive outlook and a hardworking attitude and ended up having to raise us as a widower,” Vazques said. “He’s always told me ‘nada es imposible.’ I take those words to heart when dealing with life and art.”

Vazques said his art expresses a somber sadness, but he likes to also maintain hope and an occasional sense of humor in his work. He said he expresses this somberness because he feels he has a responsibility to his fellow DACA students.

“Being used as a political pawn just kind of gets to you,” Vazques said. “It feels dehumanizing sometimes, but it also definitely taught me to keep working anyways. My art has definitely proved that I belong here. I belong in both worlds, really. In terms of art, it’s sort of allowed me to look at things [from] a fresh perspective.”

Vazques believes immigration issues are severely overlooked and that he can get people to pay attention through his art. He said he uses his work as a form of activism, but not as directly as he wishes.

“Right now, I feel like I’m confining my work to just the college, and there’s only so much change you can make in a college,” Vazques said. “After I graduate, I would like to scale it up a little bit so it’s a bit more public and allows for that activism.”

Jim Burton, university senior studio art lecturer and Vazques’ professor, said the idea of being a “dual citizen of the world” influences Vazques’ art. He believes Vasquez is not afraid to approach hard subjects without being “preachy.”

“It’s more interesting artwork because it asks questions rather than gives us answers,” Burton said.

Burton said when Vazques makes a piece, “everybody notices.” He finds Vazques is willing to go into deep conversations and is not afraid to approach hard subjects.

“He really is kind of helping to elevate every class that he’s in and in turn, elevate our student body,” Burton said. “In general, he just kind of raises the dialogue in the community here.”

Burton praised Vazques not only for his art, but also for his character.

“He’s just a friendly guy that everybody knows they can talk to,” Burton said. “He inspires other students to speak up even if they don’t know the big words or the art words.”

Along with wanting his art to emphasize immigration issues, Vazques said he wants his art to connect with others who can relate to his personal experiences.

“I hope my artwork at least resonates with some kids,” Vazques said. “I hope my work can give at least some sense of serenity and solace — just letting people know that ‘I’m in this with you too.’”

Featured Image: Jose Vazques poses with his art on Oct. 27, 2022. Photo by Mark Regalado

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Madison Brewster

Madison Brewster

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