By Tyler Noland, SOU ’21
Looking at Maldonado’s paintings begs us to ask: what can be said when we aren’t using words? There is something about these massive paintings that wants to be understood. They envelope their space while simultaneously explaining something unexplainable and guiding us through incredible simplicity. This was Maldonado’s attempt to try something they have never tried before, and the payoff has been incredibly positive.
Victor Maldonado, who now goes by V., is originally from Changuitiro, Michoacan, Mexico but grew up in the Central San Joaquin Valley of California. They are currently the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusions at Pacific Northwest College of Art. This is V.’s first museum show despite their work being recently purchased by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Portland Art Museum.
Their current work is a response to identity. Much like many of the other exhibitions on display this fall, these paintings speak to figuring out oneself in the face of conflicting boundaries. V. is using these paintings to take control of their own design. The exhibition is entitled: Excerpts From a Book I’ll Never Write. The paintings are expressing all the things V. would rather express through their first language of visual art. The show is a reconsideration of the identities and boxes that have confined them in the past, and in turn becomes a visual history of who they have been and who they are now.
Our society begs people to put themselves into boxes and define every aspect of their being as either one thing or another. Maldonado has faced the conflicts of their identity: indigenous, Mexican, masculine, feminine, immigrant, American, as well as navigating being an artist in all situations. More recently, they have decided to embrace the conflicts of all parts of their identity, this work has been the output of that decision. V. said we are all products of design; everything has been designed by someone so essentially why can’t we design the future the way we want to.
Maldonado holds a level of personal honesty that is important to becoming an unapologetic version of oneself. It is those people who have had to face more in the pursuit of their own identities who show a certain strength that can be so powerfully translated into their work. These paintings represent an expanded sense of self for V., they embrace everything in their past and who they are in relation to it. Maldonado is fighting the system through art and personal expression, their own form of activism.
Victor Maldonado: Excerpts From a Book I’ll Never Write will be on display in the Heiter Gallery at the Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, OR from October 24th to December 14th, 2019.
Tyler Noland is a junior Creative Writing major at Southern Oregon University. She is originally from the Bay Area, and this is her second year at the Schneider Museum of Art. While not working on her writing she enjoys thrifting for her newest funky outfit.