Artists Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, aka “The Date Farmers,” take regular trips from their homes in Southern California to scavenge Mexicali and Oaxaca for found materials to create their collaged art work. The pair pick up everything from cracker tins, old signs, and discarded toys to paper advertisements, stickers and bottle caps, which they then assemble and embellish with drawings and paintings.
The Date Farmers transform collected garbage into canvases and art supplies. Cracker tins (which may seem like a vintage material to Americans) are hammered out and painted on, as are signs advertising Coca Cola or 7Up. Found corrugated metal (perhaps from awnings) and metal serving trays are also common in the Date Farmers’ work.
As Americans with Mexican descent, The Date Farmers’ work is influenced by race, wealth and their own heritage- culturally as Americans and Mexicans. With roots in graffiti, Mexican advertisements, sign painting, ancient indigenous art and folk art, the artists use the trash from their families’ homeland to create art that discusses the inequality of the classes and social injustices. Iconography such as Native Americans, crucifixes, corporate logos, and comics are seen throughout, juxtaposed with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.
The art world has noticed — the reputable Ace Gallery picked up The Date Farmers for a show in December 2010, and they are also are currently showing at the Oakland Museum of Art. Last summer, The Date Farmers took their concept of reusing materials to the next level with their show at the San Diego Museum of Art. Here, they focused on branching outside of the exhibition, creating a series of murals in a downtrodden urban area. The permanent murals focus on urban renewal and the rehabilitation of parts of downtown San Diego through art that inspires change.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The Date Farmers transform waste materials into thought-provoking artworks that inspire social change.