Arnoldo Juarez On March 11, 2021December 19, 2022 By justiceartscoalition “Prisoners are Dreamers too,” Arnoldo Juarez “No Cactus for Chihuahua,” Arnoldo Juarez “Piñata Humbles,” Arnoldo Juarez “Rocky vs Goliath,” Arnoldo Juarez “Sharing Nachos with Pretty Strangers,” Arnoldo Juarez “Cheers,” Arnoldo Juarez “One Talented Chihuahua,” Arnoldo Juarez “A Chihuahua Goes to Jail,” Arnoldo Juarez “Can Work Kitchen,” Arnoldo Juarez “Fiery Nachos,” Arnoldo Juarez “Swallow a Jalapeño,” Arnoldo Juarez “My art is colorful, cute and funny. I created my very own cartoon characters and I do cartoon art. Making people laugh from my art work inspires me.”
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Dear Arnoldo Juarez: Sacha and I at the JAC were discussing “We Are All Dreamers Here.” and wanted to share our thoughts.
What moved us was a shock of recognition, followed by empathy, caught between the liberating aspects of knowledge gained, symbolized by the diploma, and the steel bars of prison life. How true: we all begin life as dreamers, and sadly, as we age, those dreams crumble. Like the boy with the green glasses on the lower left, we expect to be magically transformed into rock stars, generals, or Indian chiefs, with a cute girl bunny and a low-rider as accessories.
But as we encounter the harsh realities of our society, coupled with our limitations, those dreams of childhood and youth die. As the ex-boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) mumbled famously to his brother in the film On the Waterfront: “I coulda been a contender!” But what’s marvelous about this image is how it depicts a real-life, hard-won, grown-up dream: a diploma won behind those gray bars —bars that stand out in high contrast against the red of the figure and the orange of the rising sun. The red figure rises triumphantly off the ground, poised for a lay-up like Magic Johnson. We have some idea of what that realized dream represents, given the bureaucratic hoops one has to go through to be involved in any programming in prisons, much less earn a degree.
As a composition, this triumph, despite the odds, has a Baroque power: instead, angels gathered around a transcendent saint, calligraphy, and a child’s world surround our hero. We are invited to empathize with the central figure, stand in his shoes, and feel the tension between the liberation represented by knowledge gained, locked within the unforgiving geometry of the gray bars. We gladly accept this invitation into another’s reality and will hold on to it for years to come.
Yours, Sacha and Louis