Culture

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.

#johnsonsini @525w22

A photo posted by Suzanne Unrein (@stunrein) on

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

#JohnSonsini #amerigermceneryyohe #oiloncanvas #painting #art #artist #artofinstagram #colorcombo

A photo posted by Vincent Maxime Daudin (@soune21) on

Soon, Sonsini was painting other day laborers too.

sonsini-painting
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.

#johnsonsini @525w22 opening 2/11. Incredible stature. We are a country of immigrants. #contmporaryart #chelsea

A photo posted by Douglas F Maxwell (@dfmaxwell) on

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

#johnsonsini #ameringermceneryyohe

A photo posted by Ronnit Vasserman (@artconnectgroup) on

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.

Are you a fan of these Latino day laborer paintings? If you want to share the power of art, hit the share button below!

A Section Of Border Wall Is At Risk Of Falling Into Rio Grande Months After Being Called The ‘Lamborghini Of Border Walls’

Things That Matter

A Section Of Border Wall Is At Risk Of Falling Into Rio Grande Months After Being Called The ‘Lamborghini Of Border Walls’

Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images

Trump’s vanity project – that so many of his supporters hail as his greatest accomplishment – has hit another major setback. His planned border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has consisted of a mix of government-built and privately-built segments, and now one of the highest-profile segments is at literal risk of falling over into a river. How’s that for karma?

The segment in Texas, which its developer called the ‘Lamborghini’ of border walls, was poorly built along a massive flood plain and now erosion has left it in shambles, mere months after construction.

The “Lamborghini” of border walls is in danger of falling into the river if nothing is done.

Trump supporters funded a private border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande, helping the builder secure $1.7 billion in federal contracts. Now the “Lamborghini” of border walls is in danger of falling into the river if nothing is done, experts say.

This ‘Lamborghini’ of border walls is different from those that came before it, in that it could allegedly be built directly on the banks of the Rio Grande – a risky but potentially game-changing step when it came to the nation’s border wall system.

But engineering experts and hydrologists told ProPublica that despite the company’s claims, the wall was built too close to the Rio Grande and is in serious danger of collapse, as photos show “a series of gashes and gullies” along the base of the structure that have severely weakened the structure’s foundation.

According to reports, the foundation for the wall’s steel poles reach only 2.5 feet into the ground, less than one-third as deep as government usually requires. The shallow foundation combined with the rugged riverbank terrain is reportedly a recipe for disaster.

“When the river rises, it will likely attack those areas where the foundation is exposed, further weakening support of the fence and potentially causing portions … to fall into the Rio Grande,” Alex Mayer told ProPublica.

The geography of the Rio Grande has long been a roadblock to wall construction in the region.

Credit: Bend Bend National Park / USFS

A border wall has long existed in one form or another along much of Texas’s southern border. But it’s often existed miles away from the actual border with Mexico, thanks to the region’s diverse and difficult terrain. The Rio Grande Valley’s unique geography includes a wide floodplain that has forced the government to construct barriers inland, on top of a levee system. That has left swaths of farmland, cemeteries and even homes in a kind of no man’s land south of the fence.

Jude Benavides, a hydrologist, told ProPublica, that “People don’t appreciate the power of the Rio Grande when it does indeed wake up. It changes the landscape.”

The contractor has used the segment in Texas to secure billions of dollars worth of contracts to build additional wall in Arizona.

Just this May, the company, Fisher Sand & Gravel (FSG), a won a record-high $1.3 billion government contract to built a portion of Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. They won the approval even though the government’s own Army Corps of Engineers spoke out against FSG’s prototype for lack of “quality” and “sophistication.”

But like so many other Trump projects, the president inserted himself directly into the bidding process – helping FSG gain the contracts. No surprise: FSG’s director, Tommy Fisher, has been a frequent guest on Fox News and has played into Trump’s latest frustrations regarding his wall project, promising he would be able to build it faster and cheaper than any other contractor on the project.

The segment in Texas was built using private donations from some of Trump’s biggest supporters.

Credit: Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images

As Trump faced opposition against his border wall vanity project in Congress, several non-profit groups sprung up in support of his border wall plan. That’s exactly how Fisher’s private fence projects got off the ground.

Both the New Mexico and South Texas projects were built with financial and political help from We Build The Wall, an influential conservative nonprofit – Trump supporter and political strategist Steven Bannon is a board member. In touting its project, the group claimed to have raised more than $25 million and agreements with landowners along 250 miles of riverfront property across Texas.

Selena Gomez Offered A Special Commencement Speech To Immigrads Celebrating Their Special Achievement

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Offered A Special Commencement Speech To Immigrads Celebrating Their Special Achievement

selenagomez / Instagram

It is graduation season and Covid-19 has changed how we conduct graduation ceremonies. This year, few high school seniors will be able to walk across the stage as states and counties protect their health and offer graduation alternatives. Celebrities have stepped up to give these seniors special commencement speeches.

Selena Gomez wanted to give immigrads a special commencement speech honoring their experience.

“Congratulations to all of the Immigrads,” Gomez says int he video. “I know that this is a virtual ceremony, but it is very real and it is very real to all of the families, and all of you, and your communities. I want you guys to know that you matter and that your experiences are a huge part of the American story.”

Gomez used her speech to connect with the immigrant graduates by relating to their stories.

“When my family came here from Mexico, they set into motion my American story, as well as theirs,” Gomez says. “I’m a proud third-generation American-Mexican, and my family’s journey and their sacrifices helped me get me to where I am today. Mine is not a unique story. Each and every one of you have a similar tale of becoming an American.”

Gomez gave her address for Define American, an immigrant-led organization.

Define American “is a narrative and culture change organization that uses media and the power of storytelling to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America,” reads the website.

Gomez fans are here to support the singer and her speech.

Gomez has used her platform to confront major topics in American politics and society. She produced “13 Reasons Why” to enter the conversation about teenage suicide and has used her social media platform to celebrate undocumented immigrants chasing the American Dream.

Gomez ended her speech giving all of the immigrads some words of encouragement.

“So, regardless of where your family is from, regardless of your immigration status, you have taken action to earn an education, to make your families proud, and to open up your worlds,” Gomez says. “So, I’m sending all of my love to you guys today, and congratulations, and I hope that you guys are set off to be everything that you want to be.”

READ: TV Special “Graduate Together” Gave The Class Of 2020 A Special Send-Off