Estrellas del Norte al Sur (Stars from North to the South)

Tuesday, August 31, 2021 3:05 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

Fulgencio Lazo at ArtXchange Gallery • Seattle, Washington

To be a painter is to have a responsibility to others.

Our work must have a purpose. It must give life and hope. 

—Fulgencio Lazo

In the Seattle art community, Fulgencio Lazo stands out for both his dazzling paintings and his commitment to community. Based in both Oaxaca, Mexico, where he was born, and Seattle, where he came to study art as a young man, he connects the two regions in many different ways. 

Fulgencio Lazo’s new exhibition at ArtXchange Gallery, “Estrellas del Norte al Sur” (Stars from North to the South), sings from the walls. His layered imagery builds from geometric shapes and lush color that gradually emerge as specific references. Fulgencio combines the magnificent color and energy of his native Oaxaca, with abstract modernist structures and his personal iconography. Within his paintings and sculptures, he also embeds the social issues facing Mexicans today. In this exhibition, he focuses on the migration of children. The artist is honoring the challenges that children face as they emigrate at the same time that he celebrates them. 

In “La Máscara de los Inocentes” (The Mask of the Innocents), we see a single figure that may be riding a scooter. The child is caught up in a swirl of circles, spheres, and spirals that both constrain the child and provide energy. The rich reds, and yellows evoke Oaxacan colors, while the blues at the bottom and top suggest the North and its cooler palette.


“Travesía con los Juguetes” (Crossing with Toys) speaks to the touching images of children grasping a single toy as they travel for hundreds of miles toward the U.S. border. In this painting we see a more somber group of three children, more gray suggests less joy. They seem to each be trapped in a separate sphere. Their movement is arrested, although the wheels and hats at the bottom suggest leftovers from a carnival. 

“La Sombra de los Niños” (Shadow of Children), has a lonely leafless tree at its center. One child appears behind it, but the composition is dominated by repeated circular forms that look like curled up birds. Are these birds suggesting the ghosts of children who have died trying to cross the border? The center of the composition is dominated by blues, while the top and bottom are orange, as though the glow of Mexico is a memory. 

The exhibition also features several striking sculptures suggesting the challenges of migration. In “Equilibrio Infantil” (Childhood Balance), entirely in shades of blue, a single child balances on a semi circle; around its head are circles within circles that provide the counter weight to prevent the child from falling. In the “Poder de las Manos” (The Power of Hands), we see a child with multiple small hands reaching out as it balances within a semi wheel. Lazo has frequently used wheels to suggest movement, freedom, mobility. Here the surrounding wheel in the yellows of Mexico holds the figure, but we see it is stopped by a wall like image of blue parallel bars. The child is balanced precariously between the wall and the wheel. The figure is in shades of blue, while the golden wheel of Mexico provides a foundation. 

In addition to his artwork, he also has been a prime activist in our Seattle community. He helped to create Casa Latina, that excellent worker’s organization; he initiated Day of the Dead festivals at the Seattle Art Museum and elsewhere. In addition Lazo curates shows of other Latinx artists, opens his studio space to community celebrations and brings Oaxacan artists to Seattle. Lazo co-founded the annual Oaxacan celebration Guelaguetza as well as International Children’s Day.

Even in our present challenging times, Fulgencio Lazo continues to believe in the possibilities for change through art. He says, “My world, like all of humanity’s, has been upended by the global pandemic, humanitarian crises exacerbated by climate change, and massive movements for racial and social justice. This trifecta requires that we transform ourselves and our institutions. As an artist I must visually show what transformation looks like.”

Susan Noyes Platt

Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.

Fulgencio Lazo’s exhibit “Estrellas del Norte al Sur” is on view through September 25, Tuesday to Saturday from 11 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., at ArtXchange Gallery, located at 512 First Avenue South in Seattle, Washington. ArtXchange Gallery is planning two community events: “Indigenous Connections” on Friday, September 10, from 5 to 7 P.M.—a multi-disciplinary evening of poetry and music exploring the themes of Fulgencio Lazo’s solo exhibition. Then, an afternoon with National Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on Saturday, September 18, from 1 to 3 P.M. Visit for more information. 

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