Radical Acts

David Alfaro Siqueiros. Collective Suicide. 1936 528

Lacquer on wood with applied sections, 49" x 6' (124.5 x 182.9 cm). Gift of Dr. Gregory Zilboorg. © 2019 Siqueiros David Alfaro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico

Artist, Shellyne Rodriguez: When I think about radical artists, the person who comes to mind is David Alfaro Siqueiros.

I'm Shellyne Rodriguez. I’m born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and I'm a visual artist and a community organizer. We're always fighting a guerrilla war, when it comes to our liberation, our freedom.

What I love about Collective Suicide, is Siqueiros calls forth the atrocities committed by the Spanish in the Americas for all to see. You can see on the bottom right side Siqueiros paints Spanish colonizers moving in onto the Chichimec who are basically cornered. And what the Chichimec have decided to do is commit collective suicide rather than be subjugated.

If you look in the bottom center, you see hanging bodies. You know, any Google search will tell you what they faced. They most certainly faced death or they faced slavery. You know, it's hell.

His art and his political ideas are intertwined. One serves the other. Siqueiros comes of age during the Mexican Revolution. This was an answer to the call for a national art that uplifted the indigenous people and cultures of Mexico, which is at the core of the Mexican identity.

I just keep going back to this idea why would someone go this far to depict these things? Empowerment through the image. So that we know who has wronged us, so that we can change that. Never bow, not then and not now. That is the Revolutionary communist talking.

Kerry Downey: I’ll meet you on the fourth floor to look more work. You’ll find me in gallery 400 looking at sculptures of Melvin Edwards.

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