We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Mancha and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
Paying homage to your lineage is important. I was born in a small town on the Texas-Mexico border. It was originally Native American land and coined Eagle Pass by the Coahuiltecan Tribe because there were eagles that would fly over the Rio Grande prior to Americans colonizing the land. The proximity to Mexico and the Native American Reservation is the DNA behind what inspires me and my work. I look at my culture like a dynasty that’s been lost in translation over the years. We live in an era of instant information, where cultural traditions are vanishing so having that strong link to my heritage continues to push me forward. Living in a city like LA is dope because you can expand and grow, you can take what you have and bring it outward. It’s a blessing living here.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
First off thank you for giving me this platform to speak. I’m grateful. My work has been inspired by my experience as a first-generation Mexican American. My grandfather c0mes from Indigenous land in Coahuila, Mexico, so I have all this Mexican/ Native blood running through my veins. I wanted to find a way to capture the essence of that in my work. At first, I don’t feel like I had a clue what I was doing. I was trying to find a way to piece together the experience of the LatinX communities in the US by collaging different found objects like flyers, and posters and using color and gesture to make that vibe come alive. It was new territory for me, but when COVID struck, I felt like that abstract energy was too chaotic. I needed to focus on s0mething that required more attention to detail. So I saw this photograph by my now friend and colleague Enrique Leyva of Oaxaca, MX. It was a photo of Karen Espinoza Vega for her spread in Vogue Mexico. I was super inspired by the use of pattern in the clothing and how they highlighted her Indigenous background. I knew there was something to be told there. A story that I related to for once in my life. So I traveled down to Oaxaca to work with Leyva. We collaborated on a photoshoot and the end result has taken me down a completely different journey. Since my project in Oaxaca, I understand the value of the photoshoot. The presence of being in the land and community that’s relatable to my subject. It’s an art project now in which I’m highlighting the traditional, the cultural and the contemporary. I’m happy to say I’m working with some of the most talented people here in Los Angeles and am looking forward to taking it to the next level. It makes me feel great knowing there’s a gap in the history of art-making and that I’m providing something for my narrative.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is an interesting question because this pandemic has put me out the game socially for a minute. For one we’re definitely going museum and gallery hopping. It’s important for any friend of mine to see what LA has going on artistically and culturally. MOCA, LACMA, The Broad. The Underground Museum, LA Louvre, Jeffery Deitch, David Kordansky, Eastside International, Spruth Magers, New Image Art, Gagosian, Regen Projects, etc… There’s too many to list. We’re swooping up carne asada sopes at King Taco, I don’t care what anyone says, those are crucial. Bone Marrow pasta at Bestia, pastrami noodles and natural wine at Night + Market, OG Margaritas and super mule burritos at Gilberts El Indio, El Tepeyac Cafe, Kobee Factory in Van Nuys, El Carmen in West Hollywood, In and Out is a must, tamales at La Indiana, birria quesadilla at Las Palmas, soul food at Dulan’s on Crenshaw, spaghetti and meatballs at Dan Tana’s, steak at Musso and Franks, menswear shopping on La Brea, drinks at The Friend… Life is good.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to Shoutout the immigrant families that move to this country in search of a better life. I know that road isn’t easy, making that leap, taking that risk. I wouldn’t be here doing what I do if it wasn’t for my family making that move and working extremely hard so that I could have a better life. So I could pursue what I do. So shoutout to them for paving the way for people like me.