This 2011 portrait entitled Roger, by John Sonsini hangs in the Smithsonian National Art Museum in Washington, DC.
New York City-born artist John Sonsini lives and works in Los Angeles. Known for his large gestural paintings of Latino workers, whom he pays to sit for portraits at their normal hourly wages, Sonsini recognizes people whose stories are largely untold and who are underappreciated. Although they make up approximately 15 percent of the U.S. labor force, Latino workers are essentially absent in the dominant narratives of American history told through portraiture. Sonsini seeks to address this with paintings that bring these workers, who are named in the portraits' titles, into the spaces of museums, thereby highlighting their importance and dignity. Without staging or props, Sonsini conveys individuality through his subjects' poses and expressions, and furthermore, he pays attention to how a subject's gaze can engage the viewer. His paintings, while unique, all evoke a sense of quiet monumentality. -- SAAM