Michael Menchaca is an interdisciplinary Xicanx artist active in disrupting racist narratives that target Latinx, Black, and Indigenous People of Color using print media and new media formats to generate anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist visions of the world. As a de-indigenized Mexican American born and raised in San Antonio—a community with colonial roots in military and civil policing practices—Menchaca, like many Texans, is constantly mediating the internalized racist and colorist beliefs embedded in them by the legacy of white supremacy in the Americas.
Menchaca has developed a personalized lexicon of animal archetypes and narrative pattern designs to assist in mythologizing the interwoven histories of European colonization, U.S. slavery/mass incarceration, and the increasing deployment of surveillance technologies that maximize settler-colonial capacities of racial and social control. Their images blend the framework of ancient Mesoamerican Codices, European Bestiaries, and Japanese Video Games with the seductive, attention-seeking interfaces of Big Data Technologies. Recent work addresses the ways in which government agencies and Big Tech companies have constructed a digital caste system to maintain existing racial inequities in what Dr. Ruha Benjamin characterizes as “The New Jim Code” era. Menchaca creates multimedia installations that apply a combination of printmaking, painting, and digital animation, exploring Latinx identities in a hyper-mediated American landscape.
Menchaca received their associate degree from San Antonio College in 2007, their BFA from Texas State University in 2011, and their MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015. They have been an artist-in-residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine; Vermont Studio Center, the Wassaic Project, NY; the Segura Arts Studio, Notre Dame, IN; and The Studios at MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. Exhibitions of their work have taken place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Benton, AR, El Museo del Barrio, New York; the Davis Museum, Wellesley, MA; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh,NC; The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; and the International Print Center New York. They are one-half of the artist collective Dos Mestizx. Menchaca is a recipient of The Latinx Artist Fellowship (2021).
Photo by: Anthony Francis