Yvette Mayorga’s multi-media installation High Maintenance is a flamboyantly chilling revelation, offering unsettling insights into how the forces of violence, make-believe, and consumerism infiltrate the contemporary immigrant experience, and subvert our understanding of identity.
Drawing inspiration from the politics of America’s southern border with Mexico, her own life as a first generation Latinx-American, and her parents’ experiences as immigrants in the 1970s, Mayorga’s work examines how pain and uncertainty are covered with a veneer of celebration.
High Maintenance conjures up an absurdist, Rococo Candy Land, where frivolity intersects with fear, as soldiers and ICE agents come face to face with quinceanera cakes, white swans, and Polly Pocket adventure sets.
Every aspect of Mayorga’s built world is adorned with spectacular, rapacious iconography. Monumental fashion accessories and gendered toys interrogate the true meaning of “status,” while decadent, Colonial aesthetics remind us how fragile national identity is, and how frequently it depends on appearances.
Is this a place of joy or fear? Does it welcome us in all our diversity, or demand our assimilation? Like the guileless inhabitants of Mayorga’s thickly impastoed paintings, the second we enter this uncanny, celebratory-looking tableau, we realize we are caught between a nightmare and a dream.
Yvette Mayorga lives and works in Chicago. She earned her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, EXPO Chicago 2018, The Vincent Price Art Museum, The Chicago Cultural Center, and The National Museum of Mexican Art. Her work has been featured in Hyperallergic, The Guardian, Art News, and Teen Vogue, among others.