Beauty at a remove might be one of the most common aesthetic experiences of the 21st century. We see birds in formation through the dingy window of a crawling bus. We listen to music from our cell-phone speakers while we brush our teeth. Buildings block the breeze; construction cranes obscure the drifting clouds.
The sky that gives Ana Serrano’s Pink Sunset its title lingers in the background, walled off by brick and barbed wire. The natural first reaction is concern. The wall dominates your view: Is it there to keep people in or out? To protect or imprison? Its discolored splotches and the plants growing above it suggest that, whatever its purpose, it’s been there for a while and won’t be coming down anytime soon.
But then, softly, that sky asserts itself: a splendid pink, acrylic paint applied like thinning clouds. It’s a color of happy connotations, of open water and bare feet on grass. The wall obscures it but can’t keep it out.
Like much of the artist’s work, Pink Sunset speaks to the current moment, when marginalized communities often fear for their well-being amid political upheaval and populist hate-mongering. And just as her sky overtakes the wall, Serrano, an Angeleno now living in Portland, Oregon, fights hate with beauty. “I choose to focus on making work that is authentic and celebrates my identity and communities of color,” she says – “which is a form of resistance.”