Artist Daniel González teamed up with LCV and Chispa AZ to make a beautiful papel picado inspired art installation. The piece called attention to the urgent need for climate justice, immigration rights and voter protection. We had the chance to ask him some questions about his story and what climate justice means to him. Interested in supporting his work? Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
For Daniel González, art is a window through which people can see different perspectives, driving action by building solidarity across borders. His work focuses on creating awareness in his community and encourages people to make connections between different struggles, communicating unity between movements that seem separate.
“We don’t live single issue lives. We are complex and we are all invested in the success of all these movements,” said González about his most recent papel picado inspired art installation. For González, papel picado, a medium rooted in his Mexican heritage, represents the sentiment that “we are united in struggle through the common thread of our humanity, love and solidarity.” But González’s roots not only influence his art; they also shape what climate justice means to him.
Growing up, González spent a lot of time with his grandparents, who worked as farmers and cattle ranchers in Mexico. He remembers them sharing their observations of the natural world with him: “how certain clouds announced different weather patterns, how certain animals gave signals for rain or drought.”
“My grandmother called her animals her ‘familia muda,’ her mute family,” González recalls. “She showed me to respect animals and the interconnectedness of all life on her farm…for me climate justice is restoring that balance and respect that my grandparents shared with me.”
Guided by this mission, González‘s papel picados reflect this commitment to respect and community power — In Phoenix, where the art is located, the community is currently fighting to overturn racist voting restrictions and environmental racism.
“My experience has been that people want to build community. Artists can be a conduit for change and community building, for the exchange of ideas and perspectives. I take every opportunity I can to be that conduit.”
LCV’s Director of Cultural Strategies Maggie Bruns couldn’t agree more. Over the past five years, she has teamed up with hundreds of artists to uplift LCV’s mission of building power for people and the planet. She sees art as an important way to start conversations about challenges our communities face and our power to make change from the ground up.
For this installation, González uses papel picado’s signature bright colors to call attention to issues critical to his community: “Protect the Vote”, “Climate Justice Now”, and “Immigrants are Essential”, and the quote, “They tried to bury us but they didn’t know we were seeds.” He has no plan to stop anytime soon; whether it be by delivering a political message at a crowded concert or passing out artwork and poetry at a protest, González is looking forward to continuing to highlight the intersection of climate justice, voting rights, and immigration, and to bringing the work of organizations such as LCV and Chispa to life. The installation was permanently installed at the community garden, Spaces of Opportunity, in South Phoenix.
“I hope at the very least to be able to foster a sensitivity for the creative, that in a world of destroyers, there is the possibility of creation, and that while the world is devouring itself, there is always the opportunity to build a new world where many worlds can exist.”