The images of housekeepers and gardeners that artist Ramiro Gomez creates are deeply personal to him. Ramiro’s grandmother was a nanny, and in 2009 Ramiro himself took a job as a live-in nanny for an affluent family living in the hills above Los Angeles.
Ramiro, 27, will unveil more than two dozen works of art at his first solo show at the Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles on Saturday. Ramiro rips pages out of magazines that features images of luxury, and inserts figures of domestic workers: housekeepers, nannies, gardeners and pool cleaners.
“I want people to remember those figures so that the next time they see a manicured lawn and environments such as those featured in magazines, they can understand the process that it took to get to that point,” Ramiro told Fusion.
Ramiro has received media attention in the past for his life-size two-dimensional cardboard cutouts of gardeners and housekeepers that he places around Beverly Hills. He's also placed his public art in front of the White House in Washington D.C., to call attention to immigration reform and the rights of workers.
But starting this Saturday his work will also be seen in an L.A. gallery.
Below you'll find samples of Ramiro's work that will be featured in the show titled "Domestic Scenes."
In the image below Ramiro says he wanted to juxtapose the difference in value of the watch and the domestic worker’s labor.
“The deeper question I’m trying to bring up is what it means for workers to go through their entire life working towards something, yet never be able to build up that amount of wealth that comes much more accessible to their employers,” Ramiro said.
Ramiro also calls attention to the hourly wage and the fact that there is no overtime paid after the 8-hour work day.
A 2010 UCLA study found nearly 75 percent of child care workers and 35 percent of maids and housekeepers in Los Angeles County were paid at an hourly rate lower than the minimum wage. The study also found 97 percent of home health care workers, child care workers and maids also reported being required to work when they were not on the clock - that is, they did not get paid for all of the work they did, according to a Research & Policy Brief from the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. [PDF]
"Open Source" host Leon Krauze will soon profile Ramiro Gomez the launch of the "Young in America" series.
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(All images courtesy of Ramiro Gomez/Charlie James Gallery)