Oscar Lopez: Your Food, My Work, Our Land

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) presents Oscar Lopez: Your Food, My Work, Our Land, an outdoor painting commission on the FMCAC campus.

Exhibition Details:
On view: May 30, 2024 through January 2025
Open: Visible daily at all times
Public Art Corridor, Outdoors Between Landmark Buildings B & C
Free Admission

Free Printmaking demos and poster giveaways with Oscar Lopez and the Haight Street Art Center:
Sundays, June 9, 2024; July 14, 2024; and August 11, 2024 at the Fort Mason Farmers’ Market
Sundays, June 9, 2024, July 14, 2024, and August 11, 2024, Family Printmaking Workshop, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., San Francisco Children’s Art Center (SFCAC), (Landmark Building C, First Floor). Make a print with Oscar Lopez at the Farmers Market, then hand-paint the print in SFCAC’s art studio. Reserve space via email.
Saturday, July 13, 2024, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Oscar Lopez brings his Your Food, My Work, Our Land, originally a screen-printed poster of laborers toiling under a dominant sun, to Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture as the latest mural commission for the public art corridor between Landmark Buildings B and C. With Haight Street Art Center, along with the support of Creative Work Fund, Lopez conducted pop-up printmaking workshops to create and distribute the image at farmer’s markets from Pacifica, CA to the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Lopez expands the frame of this work for Fort Mason Art and depicts a historical sequence of agricultural labor in the San Francisco Bay Area, paired with portraits of individuals working the land today. He finds his subjects through interviews conducted at small farms and markets across the region, picturing them in a visual grammar drawn from the great Mexican muralists of the 20th century and the re-imagination of those artists in San Francisco’s Mission Muralismo movement of the 1970s. Like the posters of the United Farm Workers union, Lopez’s multi-panel mural builds a living world for his subjects and calls us to action as witnesses for their vital stewardship — a cultivation that keeps us all alive.

Your Food, My Work, Our Land is on view through January 2025. The Fort Mason Art mural commission is punctuated by ongoing public programs and art-making activities. Lopez continues his partnership with Haight Street Art Center at FMCAC, where their ongoing pop-up printmaking workshops take place in the public art corridor during the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market on June 9, July 14, and August 11, 2024. Additional activations with FMCAC resident the San Francisco Children’s Art Center, as well as an artist-designed coloring book of the mural panels, are launching in Fall 2024.

Lopez turned to farm workers during the pandemic shutdowns of 2020, as the country focused on those “essential” workers who would still need to perform their jobs outside the home. These front line and back of house workers rarely commanded high salaries or social prestige, yet society could not proceed without them. Lopez thought too of his grandfather, a farm worker under the Bracero Program (1942–1964), originally a World War II-era initiative to provide legal if short-term contracts for Mexican laborers. Your Food, My Work, Our Land asks us to see these essential individuals whose necessary work renders them invisible, like the infrastructure we use but take for granted every day.

“These hardworking individuals are the backbone of our communities, yet we so rarely appreciate their labor, acknowledge their existence, or even see their faces,” said Lopez. “With this new version of the work, I want to elevate their stories and honor the vital role they play in sustaining all of us.”


About the Artist: Oscar Lopez is a visual artist born and raised in Mexico City, where he first encountered art through the world of urban graffiti. After immigrating to the U.S. and settling in San Francisco, he has sought “to understand our complex society through a Mexican immigrant’s lens.” He noted, “I use a critical eye to engage with the globalization, imperialism, and capitalism that affect every corner of the two nations that share my soul. In order to survive in these societies built on the foundations of white supremacy and colonialism, our ancestors have been forced for generations to either hide, directly confront, or sympathize with our oppressors, resulting in a mass forgetting of cultural and social practices. As an artist, I want to create tangible images that reflect our psychological symptoms and demand us to confront our submission to the powers that hold us.”

Lopez received an AA degree in studio art from Foothill College, a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (with an emphasis on painting), and an MFA in pictorial arts from San Jose State University/ San Francisco Art Institute. He studies privately in an atelier system to understand new and old graphic techniques for his own visual language. Lopez combines his murals and paintings with social practices in both public art and his studio work, using bilingualism in language, media, and substrates, as well as in his pedagogy. Lopez is a 2024 SECA nominee and the recipient of a 2019 AXA Art Prize. He received a 2022 Creative Work Fund Grant for Your Food, My Work, Our Land. He currently teaches at Ohlone College.

About the Haight Street Art Center: The Haight Street Art Center serves San Francisco’s thriving poster art and artist communities with education and cultural development programs and exhibitions. Drawing upon music, art, social and political counterculture history, the Haight Street Art Center provides a space that bridges communities through social activism and artistic expression.

Free Admission

Image Credits: Numbers 4, 5, and 6, Photos by Pat Mazzera

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