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John Ildefonso » John M Ildefonso

John M Ildefonso

I am the first-born son of immigrant parents from La Sierra Norte de Oaxaca (Solaga). Born and raised in Los Angeles, I spent much of my youth trying to escape the culture of my family in order to integrate—and it was encouraged.

I’m keenly interested in exploring my Oaxacan roots as they intersect with my upbringing in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles during the 1980s, which at the time was a predominately African American community.

My artwork explores the syntheses of cultures as part of a larger dialogue about identity and belonging. As a person who identifies as indigenous, I have often felt closer in many ways to the African American community than to the Mexican community. Oaxacans tend to self-isolate as do African American communities. These communities share many barriers and challenges, and while I saw instances of them coming together, I saw a lot of conflict as well.

I believe I belong to many cultures and many traditions; I cannot claim one exclusively and none would claim me as definitively their own. This journey of discovery in identity and belonging is my story. I feel that there are many Oaxaqueños in Los Angeles who could relate to my path of learning.
 

Recent Posts

AGAINST THE ODDS

Explore the lives of visual artists who made the Harlem Renaissance one of the 20th century's richest artistic moments. Archival footage, newsreels, and photographs recall the influential force of exhibitions, Harlem's vibrancy in the Roaring Twenties, and significant personalities such as William E. Harmon, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Alain Locke. Watch African-American artists triumph over formidable odds to create lasting beauty.

YOUNG AT HEART

A documentary on a chorus of senior citizens from Massachusetts who cover songs by Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Sonic Youth, and other unexpected musicians.

TIM'S VERMEER

Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.

THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI

Documentary about red-beret-ed Jimmy Mirikitani, a feisty painter working and living on the street, near the World Trade Center, when 9/11 devastates the neighborhood. A nearby film editor, Linda Hattendorf, persuades elderly Jimmy to move in with her, while seeking a permanent home for him. The young woman delves into the California-born, Japan-raised artist's unique life which developed his resilient personality, and fuels his 2 main subjects: cats and internment camps. The editor films Jimmy's remarkable journey back into his incredible past.