Drawing by Mark Vallen

"El Salvador Presente"
(El Salvador is Present)

Mark Vallen 1994
Lithograph - 14" x 18" inches

Purchase this artwork on Saatchi Art.

Artist's statement:

"Two years after El Salvador's civil war ended in 1992, I would create my drawing, El Salvador Presente, a visual summation of my attitude towards that Central American nation's long conflict. "Presente" (Present), is a word called out after the name of someone deceased is mentioned, it is a way of acknowledging that the person's spirit is still with us.

My drawing carries a reference to the slain Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the former Archbishop of San Salvador who was murdered by a right-wing death squad on March 24, 1980 while celebrating mass. He was shot down one day after giving a sermon where he called upon Salvadoran soldiers to stop the repression against the people and to respect their basic human rights. In my artwork I emblazoned his name on a cross carried by the demonstrators I depicted.

In 1994 my drawing was published as a front cover for the independent political journal, CrossRoads, along with the following statement from me:

'Over the years I have learned many invaluable lessons from the Salvadoran people - lessons concerning what it means to love and sacrifice for a community, about the indispensability of culture in that struggle, lessons regarding faith and irrepressible human spirit. This work expresses the gratitude and indebtedness I feel for receiving these gifts.'

Without a doubt the war in El Salvador changed the face of America, some 2 million Salvadoreños now live in the U.S., with most of them calling L.A. home. It may appear that my drawing portrays a scene from a Salvadoran city like Chalatenango, Soyapango, or Zacatecoluca, but in actuality all of my models were Salvadoreños found on the streets of Los Angeles."

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