My paintings are figurative, urban, and Chicano. They combine references to resistance and struggle to provide a context for understanding the contemporary issues we face. I try to comment on these struggles while visualizing the hopes and dreams of our community. I want my work to speak a language that is easy to access.
My new paintings continue with the same stylistic approaches and themes. The series, entitled Fly, tells a story of conquest, resistance, escape and change. The series is inspired by an African American folktale as told in the book, The People Could Fly. In the folktale, spirits empower African slaves to resist and escape slavery in the American South. The tale served both as a code for action and continues to be a testament to those who are oppressed.
In Fly, contemporary Los Angeles is the place where the invisible become visible, the conquered are empowered, and the people who could fly are our elders, children and spirits who inspire us to struggle and strive for a world based on something other than money, war, and fear.
Art has the potential to serve as a catalyst to inspire change and fuel resistance. I have always seen my paintings as part of a larger collective vision, a vision that manifests itself in contemporary Latino music, hip-hop, theatre, and art. It serves, inspires and reacts with people, community organizations, and nonprofit institutions that seek to empower and redirect our struggles toward a better world.
José B. Ramírez was born and raised in East Los Angeles. He attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his B.F.A. in 1990 and his M.F.A. in 1993. Ramírez received his teaching credentials from California State University, Los Angeles in 1995 and has worked as an elementary school teacher for nearly a decade. He has exhibited widely throughout the country including a one-person exhibition at UFA Gallery in New York, and his work can be found in many private collections. In addition to gallery exhibitions, Ramírez has completed numerous public art projects including murals for the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, Dolores Mission Church, and Ascot Avenue Elementary School.