“The challenge of being bicultural and bilingual is that I live in two different worlds,” notes Salvador Jiménez-Flores, who grew up in Mexico and now lives in Chicago. “Everywhere I live, I am a foreigner.”
Jiménez-Flores’ work often examines aspects of identity and migration, as in Nopales Híbridos: An Imaginary World of a Rascuache-Futurism (2017). The centerpiece of the installation consists of a surreal 8-foot cactus, perched atop a sunlike disk and featuring faces encased in the plant, like seeds in a pod. The leaves are hard and prickly; the faces, at first glance, are as well, perhaps weathered by the daily discomfort of never quite fitting in. But the plant is beautiful, even exuberant, with flowers of red and yellow sprouting among the thorns. A cactus is foremost a survivor; under harsh sunlight, with little water, it nonetheless claims and defines its space.
“I see this succulent as the hope for our future,” Jiménez-Flores says. His own career is a testament to the power of perseverance. He studied in Florence, was an artist-in-residence for the city of Boston, and now teaches ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He exhibits his work across borders. Like the tough plant he depicts, Jiménez-Flores’ art, wherever it turns up, becomes a scene of wonder.