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Hector Dionicio Mendoza - Projects - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Mil USOS/Labor Monument: Portrait of my aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, others, parents, and grandparents

The Spanish term “Mil Usos” is literally translated into English as “one thousand uses”. Positioning the term is more complexed in that it’s usually used to define a person who is handy or better yet, a Jack-of-all trades, someone with DYI abilities that can do many things using tradesperson skills. Jack-of-of all-trades is not only elitist, antiquated, and sexist but this definition comes with very negative connotations. It reduces the person’s abilities and skill set to say that someone is capable of doing many things but is incompetent in most, thus “Jack-of-all-trades, master of none”.

Mil USOS/Labor Monument: Portrait of my aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, others, parents, and grandparents. This installation is a portrait of my family and my community. The installation sheds light on the topic of immigration and all the complexities and risks that come with impoverished people being forced to leave their communities and country of origin looking for a better way of life. In this country, millions of immigrants endure wage exploitation and horrible employment condition abuse, based on their legal status.

The majority of immigrant families find themselves doing various laborious, under-paid jobs in order to survive. In California alone, undocumented immigrants contribute billions of dollars to the economy, most of them working in multiple jobs and taking the role of a “MIL USOS”.

The art installation is made up of a larger than life figure. The figure is kneeling on one knee as a sign of protest regarding all the inequalities and abuses endured in the typical labor force. Most of the installation was fabricated using carboard as its primary material. Cardboard is a ubiquitous material that is common, everywhere, recycled or discarded.
Most of the time cardboard is a material that is taken for granted, yet at the same time is a material that is malleable, multi-use and resilient.

Other materials present in the installation are wood, concrete, and sander-blocks. These materials are in reference to hard-labor jobs such as construction, which many of my family members work in. Finally, the installation includes spray painted patterns on the left arm and the right leg of the figure. These patterns are of plants used for healing in ethno-botany. They represent life, hope and the power of community healing. 

This installation is a celebration of all the “Mil Usos” and is dedicated to all the people that work in construction, restaurants, agriculture, custodial, gardening, food delivery, home cleaning, food vendors, hotels, grocery stores, babysitting, elderly care…

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