Stronger Roots

  • wall-border-house-roots-heritage.jpg
Fan - 11 Expert - 19

This painting was exhibited at the "2020 People's Gallery" at Austin City Hall.

This painting was also part of my solo exhibit Places and Perceptions at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Austin, TX, April 13 - June 17, 2017

This painting measures 40x30 inches with a depth of 1.5 inch. The sides of this thick canvas were painted so there is no need for a frame. It's ready to hang!

About this painting:
The United States is a great country made up of people from all over the world as well as the native Americans. I am an immigrant. We all contribute by bringing our different cultures, our ideas, our skills, our foods, etc. Those of us who had the courage to leave everything behind in our home country, are a particular type of human being: we are go-getters, we are hard workers, we are creative, we are proud to be bicultural (yes, we love the US as well as our home country), we have a strong sense of community, we constantly strive to be better in anything we do, we are willing to go out of our way to help other people, family is very important for us, we educate the new generations to do even better than us, etc. We continue to make this place as great as it has always been or even greater. We can’t be denied or erased from history. We are here, look around. Our roots have become stronger in our home country as well as in the US. No walls, papers (or lack of), fake stereotypes, define us. We already know who we are. We are proud of our stronger roots.

Responses (1)

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John Crowther
John Crowther Critic

January 21, 2022

As we have seen repeatedly in her work, Marlene Llanes brilliantly uses surrealism to highlight and comment on current societal issues. Stronger Roots is an immensely accomplished painting, both in its masterful composition and the power of its message.

Throughout this text, I will refer to the image as the border between Mexico and the United States. I apologize to Llanes or anyone else who believes otherwise; I think the symbolic weight of the border wall is universal.

What do we mean by “home”? Is it a place where we feel comfortable? Hopefully. Is it a place where our family has history and roots? Sometimes. Whether "home is where the heart is" or where our family history is, we can all agree you know it when you see it. At its core, a home is a place of safety and security. Before the world was divided into little national cults, the home was anywhere one could build a house and make a living; for better or for worse, that time is long gone. "Home" is a hotly disputed, ideologically ridden, and violence-provoking debate.

The situation at the Mexican and United States border is particularly interesting. If you were of the opinion that Mexican immigrants should be prevented from crossing the wall because they are trespassing on land that is not their own, then you would be making an argument antithetical to your purpose. Suppose you (a United States citizen) believe your ancestors' roots in the land on which you live give you a right to inhabit it. In that case, you should immediately vacate your homes and give them to the Mexicans desperately trying to cross the border. The United States annexed (stole) all of California, Nevada, Utah, and most of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico from Mexico. There is no historical doubt that the lands Mexican immigrants attempt to enter were once part of the country from which they originated. Mexican roots in the west of the United States go far deeper than those of any American. So, we are left with the right of conquest; do we believe that the land is irrevocably the province of the United States because we killed enough people to earn it? I would contend this is a barbaric belief, to say the least, but it is the only option for those fixed on the right of inheritance.

Next, we come to the matter of culture. People south of the border are seen as a foreign presence who have no place in the culture of the United States. As Llanes points out, this argument is also fundamentally flawed, as Americans pride themselves, above all else, as belonging to the land of opportunity where hard work translates into prosperity. The work ethic and perseverance of those who make the heinously arduous journey across the border are difficult to deny. No one embodies the "American" work ethic more than recent immigrants who will work themselves into the grave to achieve the ever-elusive American dream. So, what really motivates those diametrically opposed to opening the borders to immigration? It is not because Mexicans steal their homes but because they no longer feel at home. When we feel abandoned by our governments and society, we turn to prejudice to find a scapegoat for our abandonment. Finding a scapegoat is one of the best and oldest means to distract a population from the internal forces displacing their sense of security and hope in the future.

 Llanes' awareness of all these considerations is on full display in Stronger Roots. The spindly root-like legs of Stronger Roots’ house care nothing about the rusted steel wall separating this once united land. They easily stride over the impediment in search of a new place to put down roots, start a family, and contribute to the country that once stole almost half of theirs. The mobile home's blank windows and generic frame connote a universality to the endeavor. Any immigrant from any place could live in that house. An action foreign to many but a desire common to all. Everyone wants a home, safety, security, and who are we to deny such fundamental human rights?

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Marlene Llanes
Marlene Llanes Creator

January 21, 2022

Wow! What an amazing description!! Completely agree with everything you wrote! Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!

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John Crowther
John Crowther Critic

January 26, 2022

I'm so glad I had the right read on it!

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Marlene Llanes
Landscape, Surrealism
Painting - Unframed
Oil, Canvas
30.00 inches wide
40.00 inches tall
1.50 inches deep
10.00 lbs
Austin, TX, US