|Somos La Luz
Charles "Chaz" Bojórquez
Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez grew up in East Los Angeles where he was exposed to the graffiti of the gangs around him. Somos La Luz (We Are the Light) combines a variety of writing styles layered one on top of another, simulating successive layers of paint accumulated on a wall. In creating the textural density of this dynamic composition, he used many subtle tonal variations that range from silver gray to black.
Media coverage of a Los Angeles competition to determine the city's best graffiti artist inspired this wall-sized painting. When critics used words like "respect," "acceptance," and "art," he realized that the outlaw language of street gangs had achieved a measure of approval. "The dark letters," he reported, "are the names of the young writers (Zender, Nuke, Duke, Skill, and Krenz) who are changing the legitimacy of graffiti language from the dark underground to the steel strength and light of acceptance." The words of the title appear among the names and numbers in this tribute to the tenacity and achievement of urban youth.
Like many artists of his generation, he was inspired by the Chicano movement for civil rights to create art that functions on multiple social and aesthetic levels. Although he lives in Los Angeles—a city from which he draws great inspiration—he has traveled to several countries and regions, including the South Pacific, Asia, and Europe, in search of other calligraphic languages.
For quote, see Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez, statement in curatorial files, 1994, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
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