El Bolo

El Bolo
Daniela García Hamilton

EL BOLO, 2019 By artist Daniela García Hamilton

Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 36x48in

Artist’s Statement

“El Bolo” depicts a traditional ceremony in Mexican culture. This ceremony takes place during the reception of a young child's baptism into the Cathloic faith. A “bolo” is the act of spreading wealth to the next generation. The main godfather who is chosen to baptize the celebrated child, is expected to bring coins and toss them into the crowd to spread the wealth. Typically the godfather is chosen to baptize the child because they hold status among the family as being able to financially care for their godchild in the event that the parents cannot.

This work draws connections between the concept of a godparent against the idea of immigration in our current climate. The United States plays the role of the godparent in the Americas, since it is the wealthiest country and it holds the financial means to “care for the child,” the child being those who seek to immigrate to find financial stability. In my painting the U.S. takes the form of a “titere” or a Mexican string puppet. I portray them as the puppet because their immigration policies are influenced by whichever political party is the majority, each party campaigns on immigration, promising resolution. So the puppet throws a coin on a string and the children in the foreground reach for the promised immigration status. As the next party shifts their political gain, the puppet tugs the coin just out of reach. The children continue to reach for this promise without knowing that it will not be delivered. Children are brought over with the promise of a better life and the U.S. is the godfather who is supposed to provide it.

There is one child in the far left corner who is depicted with a blank, featureless face. This child is a reminder that anyone of us could have been in their place. We do not choose who we are born to or where we are born, yet because of the imagined borders our governments draw, this determines the quality of life we are allowed to strive for.

About the Artist Daniela García Hamilton (b. 1995) First-generation Mexican American (Oxnard, California)

Daniela García Hamilton is a first-generation Mexican American artist. Originally from the Antelope Valley California, she spent her childhood living between the rural town of Lake Los Angeles (CA) and her father's hometown, Las Canas Guanajuato, Mexico. Her work revists the rituals and traditions she experienced as a child of immigrant parents. Color and pattern is integrated throughout her work as she describes the vibrancy of her cultural traditions through portraits of her family members. Settings are fabricated to draw attention to social-political commentary on past and current immigrant experiences. As she entered higher education, she began to reflect on her traditions through the American lens. Contemporary American tile patterns are used as the veil through which she remembers these events.

She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Long Beach in 2018, shortly after she received her Teaching Credential. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) as a candidate at California State University, Northridge while teaching full-time as a High School Art teacher in Thousand Oaks. Her work has been exhibited throughout the California Coast, with galleries such as Artbug Gallery, TAG Gallery, Luna Anais Gallery, Artshare LA, the Irvine Fine Arts Center and Residency Art Gallery. She has been a keynote speaker for the undocumented commencent at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and continues to hold a strong connection to her Mexican-immigrant roots.


Oil and Charcoal on canvas
Department of Ethnic Studies
Object Identifier (Accession #):
© Daniela García Hamilton, reproduced with permission from the artist. The images associated with the objects on this website are protected under United States copyright laws. We are pleased to share these materials as an educational resource for the public for non-commercial, educational and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by law. Photo: Kennedy Library

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