Despite their central role in business, or perhaps because of their ubiquity, those behind the register are often rendered invisible. This portrait, by Marianna T. Olague, focuses attention on the people who work in customer service. The painting’s scale, perspective, and saturated colors provide an encounter for the viewer that is akin to feeling like they are next in line.
Olague’s practice has focused on the lives of her family and friends living along the Mexico-U.S. border in El Paso, Texas. Although the border is not depicted, it has defined much of their lives, and its impact is palpable through the objects and signs that surround this woman, Olague’s youngest sister. Baby formula and cigarettes remain guarded, emblematic of their frequent purchase and need to be monitored. The worker, meanwhile, sits somewhere between “daydreaming and disappointment,” as the mainly “cash only” transactions transpire under her watch.