Long Beach-based artist and former produce field worker Narsiso Martinez talks about:

Growing up in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico (Santa Cruz Papalutla), with several brothers and sisters, and a mom and dad who were often on the road for work; his resistance and questioning of working in the fields, something his family did when he was growing up as a way to have food on hand in tighter times; a very condensed version of his travails in crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S., which took him 4 tries to do; his initial settling in Los Angeles with one of his brothers, who is in the car upholstery business; going to an adult high school to learn English as well as other classes, on his way to going to Cal State Long Beach for an undergraduate, and eventually an MFA degree; how he made his adult high school studies a higher priority than his day jobs, so if a job conflicted with school, he would leave the job; his ups and downs at LA City College, where he got his associate degree and may have gone into biology if it wasn’t for his lack of resident papers; what it was like working in the fields – physically as well as mentally – up in Washington state, where he picked produce including asparagus, cherries and apples, both for one full year, as well as over the summers between Cal State Long Beach school years; his gradual discovery of produce boxes that became the surfaces/objects for his paintings, starting with collecting a few boxes from a Costco; his complex thoughts and feelings about class differences, including thinking of himself as something of a role model for who people can become, as well as the importance of education, and family support, in making his long journey, which he describes as many different lives.

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