Michael Vasquez
Michael Vasquez's “CSPG: Southway Zoo – Tropical Boyz”, a portrait of acrylic on canvas from 2016.

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CSPG: Southway Zoo – Tropical Boyz
The Dean Collection

Michael Vasquez’s dynamic large-scale portraits explore identity and acceptance through the experiences of young men coming of age within under- served communities. He describes CSPG: Southway Zoo – Tropical Boyz as a symbol of new beginnings. The portrait depicts two young men in a lush setting, wearing matching camouflage clothes. They make the hand signs for CSPG, the acronym for an underground hip-hop conglomerate that they formed.

In Vasquez’s words: “After being away for some time to deal with his vices and get himself back together, the young man in the hat is returning home to the warm welcome of his brother at their grandmother’s house. Conveying his newfound grip on his vices, he confidently clutches a skateboard scrawled with drawings that allude to a past lifestyle, unashamed because he now feels a sense of both control and support.”