Photo: Ramiro Gomez
Ramiro Gomez is combating “the invisibility” of immigrant workers employed in the mansions of Los Angeles by painting cardboard figures of them that he installs in the city’s exclusive areas to remind people of their existence.
“With my artwork I found a way to represent them and put them in the foreground of the photo instead of out of sight at the back,” Gomez told Efe.
“People often take pictures of a beautiful house in Beverly Hills, but they forget to take photos of all the domestic help who work to keep the house beautiful,” he said.
The painter studied a year and a half at the California Institute of the Arts, but dropped out when he could no longer afford the tuition, and four years ago through some friends he began working as a babysitter in mansions.
Gomez, born 27 years ago in San Bernardino, California, of Mexican descent, said that while the kids he looked after were playing or sleeping, he would amuse himself reading design and decoration magazines.
“In the copies they would throw in the trash, I tore out the pages with photos of gardens and interiors, onto which I began to paint the figures of the gardeners or cleaning ladies who come from many countries, but of whom many are Latinos,” Gomez said.
“Later I got the idea of painting them life-size, on cardboard saved from the rubbish for me by workers at kitchen appliance stores. Afterwards I cut out the figures and with wooden supports I install them on the lawns of the mansions’ front yards,” he said.
Gomez’s art inspired by domestic help can be seen in the Hollywood Hills, but he has also installed figures of popsicle and balloon vendors on the sidewalk in front of luxury stores on Rodeo Drive, among other exclusive venues.