In this video, we meet Ramiro Gomez, an artist working in Los Angeles. Ramiro shares his story of growing up with parents who immigrated from Mexico. While he had always wanted to pursue art, he first took a job providing in-home childcare in the Hollywood Hills. He explains that his parents had also worked in the domestic service industry, and they were unhappy that Ramiro was following the same path. However, Ramiro says this work inspired him; through his art, he explored the experiences of LA’s many immigrant domestic service workers. He now creates art pieces, including life size portraits inserted into public space, that make visible the labor that goes into maintaining the homes and gardens of Los Angeles. He explains that he hopes his art will make those who see it think about and discuss the contribution of these workers, the challenges they face including wage theft, and the sacrifices they make for young people in his generation.
What are some stereotypes about immigrant domestic workers that Gomez is fighting against?
Does Ramiro’s work challenge these stereotypes? How do they, or how don’t they? Do his portraits potentially change the way we see and understand labor and who does it?
How would you feel seeing Ramiro’s portraits in a public place?
Do you think the work may affect audiences differently depending on their identity, where and how they grew up?
In your own community, what labor do you see? Can you imagine other projects that could be done in your own community that might make labor that is not currently acknowledged more visible and recognized? Why might such a project be important?