Alejandra Martinez

About The Artwork

Reimagining Vacant Tire Shop, 2020, Mixed-media collage

I am from Southeast Los Angeles (SELA), a low-income and predominantly Latine community in LA County. Currently, the SELA community is confronting the impacts of historical disinvestment and the looming threat of gentrification. As my community embraces certain revitalization strategies and falls behind with passing renter protections, I see that SELA's vibrant social fabric is at risk of being torn apart. My collage work reimagines vacant spaces in my city that have been demolished to bring in franchises. I imagine an alternate universe where my community has access to vibrant spaces that foster solidarity and prosperity.

Reimagining the former Site of El Tacazo, 2020, Mixed-media collage

This collage reimagines the former site of El Tacazo, a Mexican restaurant that served my city of Bell for over 20 years and was replaced with a Wendy's franchise. The restaurant's unique architecture was demolished to make way for a grey, bleak building. In this collage, I explore how the space could have otherwise been used to foster a sense of community by embracing vibrant street vendors and creating a place of play for youth. As my community becomes more alienated from each other due to local businesses and places of gathering closing, I explore different possibilities that could strengthen our connection.

For the love of SELA, 2019, Photograph

I captured a tender hug between two people outside my local liquor store in Bell, CA. I am drawn to this location because of the store's vibrant signage and the diverse flow of customers I see day to day. It stands as a local symbol, and the hugging individuals represent the sense of compassion and community this store has meant to me.