#Outwin2022

VINCENT VALDEZ

Commended

People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana)

Collection of Alexa Brundage

An elderly couple faces us with the gentle authority that old age provides. People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana) is a portrait of Vincent Valdez’s maternal grandparents. “My grandparents spent most of their time outside,” the artist recalled. “Grandpa spent his entire life working under the blazing Texas sun as a carpenter and yard worker, cutting lawns in the wealthy communities of San Antonio right up until he passed away. Grandma was constantly working with her hands—raising kids, washing, sewing clothes, and tending the plants in her yard.”

The Santanas are depicted in a space defined by details the artist remembers: their vintage AM radio, their plants, their homemade clothes. The bedsheet, like the Virgen de Guadalupe’s aura, signals their spiritual role in the family. This portrait connects the pair to the Indigenous and mestizo cultures of the American Southwest, including the Aztec and Maya, who honored the sun.