All my work deals in one form or another with the constant search for “The American Dream”; an elusive
notion that gives all outsiders, like me, a false sense of hope. Is the American Dream so compromised nowadays that we can no longer recognize it? Or, is it another myth just like the “romantic west” that Hollywood invented?
Over the years, I have found pieces of this American Dream. Yet, when I have enough of these pieces to start putting them together, they scatter from my hands, and I am left with nothing. In a way, I am always reconfiguring this American Dream of mine, to placate my longing to belong somewhere.
When I moved to Southern Arizona in 2011, I learned that thousands of migrants had died crossing the desert looking for whatever is left of the American Dream. My work attempts to tell the stories of struggle, suffering, death, and broken dreams that the Sonoran Desert secretly holds. In telling their stories, I am divulging my own; after all, we are the stories we tell.
Alvaro Enciso was born in Colombia, South America. He moved to the United States in the mid-sixties to pursue a college education, but the Vietnam War interfered with his plans to attend college. He was drafted into the United States Army and served 14 months in Vietnam. This education was not part of the plan, Enciso remarks.
With aid from the G.I. Bill and various part-time jobs that included: driving a taxicab in New York City, and mopping floors in a peep show house, he obtained a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, and went on to earn graduate degrees in both Literature and Latin American Studies.
In the early 1980’s he was hired by the Federal Government as an analyst and expert in Hispanic culture. He worked in the Washington-Baltimore area implementing public relations projects that would reach out to diverse Latin American cultures living in the United States.
In the late 1990’s he moved to New Mexico to reinvent himself as an artist. Enciso believed that since the word “artist” can be loosely used, he could pose as one. He has been making art without the proper credentials ever since.
In 2011 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a volunteer with the Tucson Samaritans. The Samaritans are a secular organization whose mission is to prevent deaths and alleviate the suffering of migrants that cross the desert in search of a better life. Enciso’s current art reflects the tragedy and broken dreams that he sees weekly while hiking the migrant trails.
Enciso’s work is in private collections throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe. He has exhibited widely and his art has been featured in movies, videos, newspaper articles, magazines, and radio. His most recent exhibit of work was a solo show, “Looking for the American Dream” at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The show ran November 2017 through January 2018. His work was also in the recent show, “Corridors”, at Tohono Chul Gallery in Tucson, Arizona.