In vibrantly colorful and surreally patterned paintings, Daniela García Hamilton honors and interprets the memorable episodes and formative imagery that have shaped her life as a first generation Mexican-American. Seemingly based on family snapshots but equal parts abstraction and invention, García Hamilton’s work encapsulates the fraught landscape of immigrant life in its shifting color schemes, negative spaces filled by eccentric abstract patterns, detailed cues from everyday life, and more deft fusions of the strange and familiar. Opening Sunday, September 11 at Luna Anais Gallery, García Hamilton’s new exhibition focuses this energy on a set of recollections of family gatherings at her childhood hometown of Lake Los Angeles — and in so doing, as she always does, sharing her own personal story but also a world of experiences that resonate with her entire community.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
DANIELA GARCIA HAMILTON: I first knew I was an artist when I was in Community College. I was on track to be a nurse and as I ditched my microbiology class for the 3rd time, I knew that nursing was not what I wanted to do. Since I had been ditching the class to visit my friends in the painting studios, I knew it was time to change and commit to the career I was passionate about.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is an exploration of the cultural rituals/traditions that I grew up with as a Mexican-American. I reflect on birthday rituals such as the unspoken rule of pushing the birthday boy into the cake and why it’s so important that we perform these rituals.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
If I were not an artist I would be teaching, which I do now anyway! I teach art to high school students at Westlake High School.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to Cal State Long Beach for my Bachelor of Fine Arts and I studied drawing and painting. I chose to get a formal education in art because I had no idea how to become an artist or even how to find a direction in my work. Art school helped me navigate both and gave me the tools I needed to continue to pursue art outside of the school setting.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
Technically, I live in Oxnard. As much as I love L.A., I grew up in the suburbs of L.A. County so I feel more at home in a suburb versus a big city.
When was your first show?
My first show that I was curated into was at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, it was titled A Trace is not a Map, and it opened in January 2020.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
My next show is going to be my first solo show with Luna Anais Gallery, it is titled Sundays in Lake LA, and it will be taking place at IVAN Gallery, opening on September 11.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
I would love to show with Alfonso Gonzalez, Jr. and Manuel Lopez!
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to music and watch reality TV while I paint. My favorite musicians are Los Bukis, Zoe, and Grupo Secretto , Breaking Benjamin and Rise Against. My favorite shows to watch are “90-day Fiance” and any spin off from the show.
Website and social media handles, please!
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