Artist: Dulce Soledad Ibarra
Exhibition: Manos De Oro
Media: Mixed-media, Film
Gallery: Max L. Gatov Gallery East
Dulce Soledad Ibarra is a senior at CSULB, currently working towards her BFA degree in the School of Art’s Sculpture Program. This exhibition is not part of her graduation requirements, but solely a passion project. It comes from a very personal aspect of her life and family, highlighting the virtuous character and work ethic of someone close throughout a lifetime-long career. Manos De Oro revolves around and is dedicated to Dulce’s father, who has been a gardener for a very long time. This whole exhibition is a heartwarming tribute from daughter to father, respecting his profession.
The pieces in the collection are all gardening tools plated in gold. Dulce stated that each piece is a real gardening tool, an authentic and genuine object used by actual gardeners like her father. Certain parts of each tool are covered in gold coating, which I believe helps to symbolically show the value that Dulce places in her father and his profession. These aren’t cheap, “laborer” tools. They are the instruments needed by every potential homeowner who wishes to live in a desert climate like Los Angeles county, but expects their home to resemble a temperate suburban neighborhood. Many people don’t understand the massive amount of work that goes into the upkeep of Greater Los Angeles, and people like Dulce’s father are greatly underappreciated. The gold plating shows how significant and valued his work actually is, and also displays a daughter’s perception of her father’s job. A central video plays on the back wall in front of a faux-lawn strip, with Dulce’s father working on rose bushes.
Dulce stated that this gallery is indeed about her father, and that the gold theme made each machine “feel as if it had value”. She grew up in a lower-income household, with her father always supporting the family through gardening. He still works as a gardener today, although Dulce said that she wished he would retire soon. Becoming a young adult and now being conscious of the economic conditions affecting your parents can be very stressful, but creating an art display in honor of them is a great way to express it. This project took Dulce several months to complete, and when her family arrived for the gallery opening, she said that her brother cried. It’s a very real exhibition with a clear and solid inspiration, which is very admirable.
Personally, I loved the gallery due to its family-centered themes. Having an older father as well, I connected to the message of being grateful for their dedication. Paradoxically, young adults sometimes begin to feel powerless in regard to helping out their parents, during a time when we are first becoming independent ourselves. It’s an interesting concept that competence also creates an awareness of what you aren’t capable of doing, such as quickly changing the socio-economic status of your mom or dad. Although those scenarios can’t be dealt with in the blink of an eye, creating a positive project about them such as Manos De Oro by Dulce Soledad Ibarra is a great first step.