Texas State alumnus Michael Menchaca has made a name for himself as a printmaking artist in San Antonio.
Menchaca is known for his controversial and politically explosive art, as it contains anti-Trump elements. Menchaca’s art has made him distinct from other artists by creating art dealing with the issues of the Mexican-American border and immigration.
Menchaca graduated from Texas State in 2011 with a degree in printmaking. He then attended the Rhode Island School of Design where he earned his masters in fine arts in 2015.
Menchaca has resided in his hometown of San Antonio since then with girlfriend Suzy Gonzalez, a Texas State alumna who graduated with a degree in painting. The two have been successful artists individually and collaboratively.
Menchaca has been featured in 28 galleries and exhibitions since 2016. His exhibition called “Vignettes from San Antonio” is currently displayed at the Ruiz-Healy Art gallery in San Antonio.
This particular exhibition is extremely unique and new for Menchaca’s art career, as none of the 24 pieces showcased are political nor are they prints. Instead, they are all either drawings or paintings of locals in San Antonio.
The pieces of “Vignettes from San Antonio” are not photo-realistic representations of the San Antonio locals he spoke to, but resemble pop-art where animals represent the locals.
Menchaca said he did nothing but political art as an undergraduate because it was all he knew how to do prior to “Vignettes from San Antonio.”
“My undergraduate work was the first time I started to think about my identity,” Menchaca said. “It’s not a coincidence it was while I was at school outside of my hometown I was starting to become very self-conscious and self-aware of being considered a minority.”
Menchaca said the only way he was able to adjust to this new identity issue in a healthy manner was to express it in his art.
Menchaca said he had complications with being able to continue creating and enjoying his political art due to disagreements he had in the past with exhibitors concerning the subject matter. He experienced trouble keeping up to date with social issues in order to create relevant art.
However, the obstacles Menchaca endured did not discourage him. Each hardship taught him how to improve his approach to exhibiting his pieces.
“I feel like recently, after the conversations about my political art, I am just aware that maybe not everyone wants to talk about certain topics in the art world,” Menchaca said. “To those people, maybe it’s an unfortunate thing. I’m now just more conscious about the way my work will be received.”
Johanna Fauerso, associate professor of art, instructed Menchaca at Texas State. Fauerso said she admires Menchaca greatly and has supported him since his time at the university.
“I think he’s an incredibly talented artist whose work is so timely for our moment,” Fauerso said. “His voice is so important.”
Jeffrey Dell, studio art printmaking professor and one of Menchaca’s former professors, said Menchaca has a unique vision linked to his style.
“He is super hard-working and is voracious in searching out and studying interesting influences,” Dell said.
Due to the success of “Vignettes from San Antonio,” Menchaca said he will have another exhibition featuring printmaking and his politically controversial art.
“All I would wish on him is to keep up the pace and intensity with things like the little bits of censorship that he’s encountered,” Dell said. “Stand up to it and be true to the work. That’s what’s going to make you die happy.”