Lorena Diosdado

Day Laborers Hard at Work

Having been a raised in Frisco, Texas, the idea that these individuals, captured briefly by your window on your way up Main St. were hard at work is not a popular one. So often people are reduced down to their productivity such that the performance of “hard work” is what produces a person’s value. This is the framing that surrounds contemporary debates around immigration and who deserves to be “here” but the debate is a boring one. Everyone deserves a good life irrespective of what people perceive they are “contributing” so I have been more interested in what gets erased in what is made to be a boring debate.


I am interested in how the men from El Salvador hang out by the cream building because the Mexican men hang around the Exxon sing (it is prime real estate). Confronting this hegemonic Mexican image that erases the multiple faces of people who labor is important. Members of my community, these men who would line up with my family outside of the food bank one block up from the Exxon corner for dinner every Wednesday. Working is hard and they are hard at work, marketing themselves as laborers, the best man for the job for the voyeuristic white passerby who has a couple hundred bucks to spare. But this conversation is not about money it's about oppression and the proletariat and confronting this absurd reality. 

When asked to pose for my painting, these five men oriented themselves full frontal towards the camera and asserted themselves. When I consider the landscape of this corner I think of them as the most sanctified in this critical homage to the Ghent Altarpiece and the history of labor paintings and their artists. Declaring their presence beneath the real autocrat of racial capitalism, is one of the many conversations that are happening visually. The other stories to be found, which I am very interested in as well, have much to do with what the viewers themselves are bringing to the piece. Any thoughts inspired are interesting, revealing, ones. 


Lorena Diosdado’s multi-panel installation of paintings employs strategies of fragmentation and disjunction to explore the representation of immigrant laborers in corporate America, and to negotiate a new form of social realism. In the re-configured composition with various elements, a group of Salvadorian men awaiting employment are rendered with impasto painting and given a dignifying presence. They are literally displaced, shifting between the concrete sidewalk, the green lawn that doesn’t belong to them, and the towering Exxon sign with changing numbers of oil price - all suggesting a social and economic structure that surrounds these individuals.
—Xiaoze Xie


Virtual installation view.

Virtual installation view.

Lorena Diosdado studied Art Practice with Honors with a minor in Education at Stanford University. Her current work through various media and writing explores the complex relationship between marginalized communities in the United States and the art historical narrative; and, she is interested in synthesizing avenues that may mitigate the disparity in art production and engagement. Complicating conventional views of identity and labor, her art focuses on untold, often sentimental, narratives, thereby challenging art history and contributing to ongoing efforts by BIPOC artists to complicate popular understanding of their intersecting identities.


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