By T.A. Hendrickson
Serrano’s Work, Now in LACMA’s Collection, Inspired by Latino Neighborhoods
A large-scale installation by Ana Serrano, an artist with roots in Northeast Los Angeles, was acquired in July for the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Entitled Homegrown, the installation evokes the look and feel of front-yard, window-ledge spaces in Latino neighborhoods. Brightly colored walls and ornately grated windows are punctuated with aloe vera, chili de arbol and other place-of-origin plants and herbs.
Serrano says that these are the plants her family has always grown, wherever they are: Serrano’s mother and grandparents came to L.A in the 1970s from Sinaloa, Mexico, and Serrano, who was born in L.A. in 1983, often went to Sinaloa to visit relatives.
Homegrown, she says, connects the two landscapes. In the process, it has stirred viewers: Homegrown “emphasizes our desire to put down roots, beautify the undesirable, and thrive with what we have,” wrote Yvette Montoya, a writer for Hip Latina, who reviewed Homegrown in 2018, when it was exhibited at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA).
The Road to the Museum
Serrano’s connection to NELA started in college when she moved to Eagle Rock while attending Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After she graduated in 2008, she moved to Highland Park, where she lived for several years as her career flourished with group and solo exhibitions.
Since 2017, she has been represented by Julian Bermudez, the founder of Bermudez Projects, a pair of galleries, one in downtown L.A. and one in Cypress Park.
Serrano’s exhibition of Homegrown at the PMCA coincided with her first solo exhibit at Bermudez Projects/Cypress Park. Entitled La Yarda, Spanglish for “the yard,” the solo show consisted of a series of sculptural works inspired by homes and yards in Boyle Heights, Highland Park and other L.A. neighborhoods. As such, La Yarda was an extension and continuation of themes, concepts and images in Homegrown.
Bermudez, who viewed Homegrown as a linchpin work in Serrano’s developing body of art, was concerned that it would be dismantled or relegated to storage when the PMCA exhibition ended.
To avert that loss, he urged Rita Gonzalez of LACMA to view both Homegrown and La Yarda.
Gonzalez, who was recently appointed to head LACMA’s department of contemporary art, agreed with Bermudez that Homegrown belongs in the museum, setting in motion its acquisition by the museum.
“I’m excited that Homegrown will be preserved for the people of Los Angeles to enjoy for many years to come,” says Serrano, adding, “It’s an honor.”
Here are a couple of pieces by Ann Serrano from the La Yarda exhibition at Bermudez Projects/Cypress Park in 2018. Each is created from paper, cardboard, colored pencil and glue and measures 20 x 20 inches.
T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.