LARRY YÁÑEZ
(b. 1949)

Larry Yáñez, Cocina Jaiteca, from the National Chicano Screenprint Taller,
1988–1989
"Look around your own world!"

If you need ideas for art, that's what Larry Yáñez says you should do.

That's how he gets his ideas. He looks around his world, and then he puts what he sees into his art.

Larry Yáñez's world is a fascinating one. He grew up in the Southwest, and he enjoys being part of the Chicano community there. In his community and in his artwork, the customs of the United States and Mexico are combined.

He says that he likes to throw "snatches" and "clashes" of things together. Memories from his childhood and scenes of everyday life now—he puts them all in his art.

That's what he did when he made Cocina Jaiteca. It looks like a picture of a kitchen. But it's really a picture of many kitchens.

When Larry Yáñez was young, he would often spend afternoons at his aunts' houses. He would push his toy cars and trucks around under their kitchen tables and listen to his mother and her sisters talk. When he looked up from where he was sitting, everything in the room seemed large and a little oddly shaped. In his memories, all of these afternoons and all of these kitchens have been jumbled. So that's how he made Cocina Jaiteca—it's a jumble of kitchens, all mixed together, as seen from the floor.

Why did he decide to make a picture of something as ordinary as a kitchen? We all know what kitchens are like; we see them all the time.

That's exactly why Larry Yáñez chose it. He knows that we usually don't pay much attention to what we see every day, but that doesn't mean these things aren't important. Ordinary things help us imagine the daily lives of the people who use them.

So Larry Yáñez isn't just letting us see a kitchen through his eyes.

He's helping us to take a look around his whole world!

A lot of the titles Larry Yáñez gives to his artwork are "Spanglish," a mixture of English and Spanish. Cocina Jaiteca, for example, is a play on words. In Spanish, cocina means kitchen. Jaiteca is a made-up word. But because in Spanish the "j" is pronounced like an "h," jaiteca also sounds like "high tech." Does the cocina in the painting look "high tech" and up-to-date? Or does it look jaiteca?

COULD YOU GUESS THAT…

…Larry Yáñez is a Jackalope? A jackalopeis an imaginary animal that's part jack rabbit and part antelope. It's also the name of a music group! Larry Yáñez and his friends play in a band called the Jackalopes. Their music mixes different instruments and rhythms in exciting new ways. Like the jackalope,they join things together to make something fantastic!

Cocina Jaitecais not a painting? It was printed in ink on paper, using a method called silk-screen. Cocina Jaiteca has twelve different colors in it. Can you find them? (If you need a hint, remember that the paper is white.)

…Larry Yáñez loved typewriters? When he was a little boy, it took a long time for him to write his letters. But with this machine he could print them over and over again, always perfectly. Now he uses printmaking methods, like silk-screen, to make his art.

…you can walk around inside of some of Larry Yáñez's artwork? Some of his sculptures fill whole rooms, and he says they're like "giant postcards" of the world he wants us to see.

Larry Yáñez
Jackalope