The same thing happens with visual art. We kind of whistle our art
work, and we dont know whether its going to be all right or whether
were going to end up with a disaster. Sometimes you get a good idea
right away and score a home run, and sometimes you have to keep changing
it until you feel happy with it. We never know whats going to happen
and thats the exciting part of it.
In recent years, Chagoya has found a new sense of identity as a result
of his own experience as an immigrant. He moved to the United States
because his wife, from whom he is now divorced, had become seriously ill
in Mexico. In the intervening 17 years, as anti-immigration sentiment
has grown in the United States, he has come to believe that the
immigrant experience is probably attached to everybody.
Immigration is not a change of residency or a change on the map, he
says. Immigration is an inner experience, almost a spiritual
experience. You travel inside and you change inside, according to the
kinds of experiences you have. And at a time in history in which masses
of people in the world are moving, I think everybody is some kind of
immigrant who has left something behind very dear to that person.
As a result of feeling not quite at home in either his homeland or his
adopted country, Chagoya says the immigrant artist develops an intuitive
sense that impels creativity. In a way, you have a distance from
reality, which gives you a good critical eye for your own culture, as
well as the local culture.
For me, its very important to understand the relationship between art
and society, he adds. I get a lot of insight from understanding the
social conditions in which art is created.