Hinojosa explores consumerism with “All Mine” exhibit

Rebekah Lindsey, Staff Writer

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Juan Hinojosa is a “green artist” who has recently brought his collection of collage work to the Schaffer Library. Hinojosa’s installation is entitled “All Mine” and is composed of about 15 pieces of work that he created beforehand combined with multiple vibrant collages on each column that are entirely site-specific. His pieces are bright in color and vary in texture. A collection of found objects creates a complex series cultivating a commentary on our country’s emphasis on consumerism that results in a continuous and ravenous economic hunger.

Hinojosa is Peruvian and was raised in Queens, New York. He noticed this constant American “desire to have more than we could afford” that led to a personal “obsession with collecting.” This interest in the collection of discarded and lost objects bled into his creative mentality and heavily influences his artwork.

“I crisscross the city, accumulating discarded, readymade items and scavenging pieces of trash in order to repurpose these materials for collages and site-specific installations,” Hinojosa states, emphasizing that this process has changed the way he looks at his own trash and at the trash around him.

Hinojosa has a transformative ability to take any item, originally perceived as “trash” and manufacture an effervescent dialogue in each piece of art. He says, “Each object retains its unique value in the state and condition it was discovered in. I do not duplicate them in any way.” Hinojosa’s work raises an inquiry into the effect that national consumerist values have in facilitating a constant need to replace old items with newer, more glamorous objects.

Metro cards, legos, shoes, photographs, rubber snakes, soda cans, magazine art, cartoons, champagne glasses and wallpaper are scattered in an intricate dance across the walls. Some of the artwork in “All Mine” is distinctly hierarchal in its message, one object placed on top of the other, while others are diagonally arranged. Others pieces are chaotic and seem to have no set order. Hinojosa’s pieces never cease to carry an intricate story.

Hinojosa’s refusal to falsely duplicate a found object allows for an interesting usage of asymmetry. The majority of his pieces have a linear flow to them, and create an illusion of balance. Lilith Haig ’21 notes that “there is a lot of upward movement in his work, which is clearly significant to the messages in his installation.” However, perfect symmetry is impossible to achieve with the usage of these unique objects.

Hinojosa likes to place polar opposites side-by-side in his work, weaving the “high end” within the “low end,” placing the natural aside the mechanical and the rare within the mundane.

Hinojosa’s skillful juxtaposition of expensive and affordable commodities demonstrates the “conflict caused by consumerism in American society.” Brands are plastered throughout his artwork: Prada, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Coca Cola and McDonalds. He says, “My artworks are a result of my own bad habits, desires and classic American greed.”

Hinojosa causes the viewer to take a moment to question which desires are controlling them in a society that is often fueled by capitalism and commercialism.

Lips are a big symbol within Hinojosa’s work as is the female body. There are many female characters that hold power towards the bottom of the piece paralleled by black and white photographs of women from our society.

For example, one piece is centered around Cat-Woman and a series of identical female boxers placed below a used dartboard and a pair of handcuffs. This piece has many beaded pieces and has many blue birds included, specifically herons. Child’s toys line the top of the collage, crowning photographs of photographs of women living in the 50s.

There is violence in the dartboard, but the darts are not actually included in the same piece. There is a separation between the weapon and the target, the target lying with the women and the weaponry lying below records and materialistic imagery.

The destruction surrounds the women Hinojosa includes in his work, but it is unclear if they are the cause, construction or creation of the chaos. The female representation in Hinojosa’s work is that of empowerment including characters who hold both good and evil natures.

The usage of lips echoes throughout Hinojosa’s recycled instillation. The lips seen in “All Mine” are primarily red and blue. Female lips are a part of the body that are often hypersexualized and lipstick companies take advantage of this patriarchally instilled wish to appear pleasurable, to have the perfect smile. None of Hinojosa’s lips smile, but they all hold a surprisingly high amount of expression. This small fraction of the human face has a huge impact on creating humanity in objectivity.

Blue lips are carpet to cartoon characters, pink lips open in anguish, revealing a few buffed pearly whites and red lips are caged in by mechanical cut outs. Each set of lips are an eerie yet aesthetically pleasing disembodied display of emotion and expense.

Another aspect showing the human nature is Hinojosa’s usage of hand-drawn bubbles that he describes as “eyes.” The eyes are created in an almost cartoon nature, bundles of eyes with miniscule pupils. These eyes are less human in image, but contain even more expression and importance than the lips. The eyes are evident in every single piece of his installation. The drawings of the eyes are the only piece of Hinojosa’s creation that is not a found object. He has drawn them specifically for “All Mine.” The eyes are always incorporated.

Some have whole sections of the piece carried by a wave of wide eyes with haphazard irises looking in slightly different directions but moving as one. Others may have only one singular grouping of drawn eyes, or four singular drawn eyes crowning a McDonald’s chicken nugget case crowning a Gucci sneaker and holding up a kaleidoscopic lip which carries a singular champagne glass.

Lego towers and beaded floral pieces jump out of the jigsaw puzzles of iridescent wallpaper dotted with popcorn boxes, lottery advertisements, magazine cutouts of Rolexes, women and perfume. Multiple cardboard alpacas are included, as well as a single dreamcatcher, metal roses, chains, pins, Christmas lights, playing cards, skyscrapers, fake cash, waffles, CDs, paper bananas and more. Hinojosa’s creations are driven by his specific daily inspiration and the energy of each situation and site.

The significance of entitling an installation created by borrowed objects “All Mine” demonstrates humanity’s tendency to crave ownership of physical objects. This desire to hold, own and collect expensive and excessive items causes an increase in production of items, while buildup in landfill and pollution increases with each purchase.

This hunger for more, for better, causes us to discard so much that is already usable, already beautiful, creating mass destruction through consumption. Juan Hinojosa transforms public waste into public service, into personal creation and universal beauty.