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Maker(s):Sánchez, Juan
Culture:American (1954- )
Title:Self-Portrait / Trying to Trace Back to Find Myself
Date Made:2013
Materials:photographs, cowrie shell, wood, gouache, paper
Measurements:Sheet: 41 3/4 in x 40 3/4 in; 106 cm x 103.5 cm; Image: 36 in x 37 7/8 in; 91.4 cm x 96.2 cm
Accession Number:  AC 2021.10
Credit Line:Museum purchase
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

Label Text:
Sánchez often creates dense collages that feature portraits of global figures, activists, and family members, among other symbolic elements, many of which refer to his Puerto Rican heritage. The integration of a self-portrait in this artwork underscores the artist’s exploration of his origins and identity and highlights his activism. The photographs—multiples of the same image—show Sánchez as a young boy at a birthday party. The replication of the image mirrors the repetition of two photographs in the background—a fragmented grid. These photographs—of a woman and a man with the Puerto Rican flag draped over their heads—were modeled after a poster Sánchez created in 1979 supporting Puerto Rican independence and the release of political prisoners. The poster was adopted by the Black Liberation movement, among other organizations.

The fragmented grid of photographs is an element Sánchez first used in the 2011 video Unknown Boricua Streaming: A Nuyorican State of Mind. Unknown Boricua, like Self-Portrait, explores Sánchez’s ethnic, racial and national identities.

Lisa Crossman (2020)

collages; photographs; self-portraits; identity

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