Miguel Machuca: Modern-Day Shaman
By Melissa McKenzie
As a young boy in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, San Jose-based artist Miguel Machuca experienced a life-changing event. Machuca was outside playing when the jack holding up his family’s car, slipped and his father was killed, crushed by the weight of the vehicle. A month later, his entire life was uprooted as his mother made the brave decision to move her family across the border and into the United States for a better life.
“[After my father’s death,] I began kind of understanding people’s suffering and seeing visions in my head,” he says. “I guess it really impacted me. Because of that [experience], it allowed me to bring out those wicked, twisted, demented images.”
Machuca’s current body of work straddles the line between beautiful and ugly. The pieces provoke a sense of uncomfortableness and unease in its viewers, and yet, Machuca says there’s nothing nefarious about them.
“I’m trying to say something with the technique,” he says. “I’ve always thought that everybody has this darkness inside them, but you live your life trying to reach the light - trying to enlighten yourself. You’re trying to become something. Before, I was trying to stay out of the light and now, with these pieces, what I’m saying is that I carry my darkness always...
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