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Meet The Artist Who Pays Latino Day Laborers To Be Subjects In His Paintings

Meet John Sonsini.

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Sonsini originally focused on painting nudes, but a conversation with a day laborer took him in a new direction.

The day laborer, Gabriel, soon became Sonsini’s partner in crime.

Soon, Sonsini was painting other day laborers too.

Credit: John Sonsini / artsy.net

“It was my partner Gabriel’s idea to approach the guys gathering for work in the neighborhood of our studio. So the notion of painting dayworkers grew entirely out of my need to have sitters who were available to work daily in the studio,” he said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Sonsini’s pays his subjects which can sit for him as long as two weeks.

Why is Sonsini drawn to day laborers? Because he can relate.

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If you look at enough of his work, you’ll notice lots of defiant stares and somber expressions.

What does it all mean? It’s up to you.

Although he has focused on painting day laborers for more than a decade, Sonsini says he’s not trying to send a specific message in his work. “Sometimes I try to recreate a facial expression, or bodily gesture, but I try to steer away from trying to convey anything personal or biographical about the sitter. I like all that to be very open, far preferring the viewer to make of it what they will,” said Sonsini to The Huffington Post.

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