Los Angeles artist, DJ, and model Elíseo Equihua finds power in his queer Latinx identity as he blazes a path for his own legacy.
Elíseo Equihua finds strength in identity. Through a practice that fuses the performative with elements of photography, fashion, and music, he defies expectation and convention. His work is emblematic of the delicate balance of paying reverence to the past while forging into the future with a vision all your own. Equihua walks this line, embarking on a journey as an artist who proudly embodies their multifaceted identity as a first-generation Gay Latinx Chicano.
Tokens of the Past
For Equihua, his heritage is an inescapable element in his life that he has embraced in his artistic practice.
The son of immigrants who settled in Los Angeles, he developed a deep empathy for the struggles his parents, and so many others, faced in the pursuit of a better life. While dislocated, othered, and fighting for a place in a new society he admired his family’s dedicated connection to their culture and its ability to evolve in their new home.
Adorned in gold; watches, chains, accents in his clothing. When viewing these details they are easily overlooked as stylistic choices, but hold deeper implications for Equihua. The intentionality of his styling draws upon the social rivalries he viewed in his youth. While all in jest, he recalls how his parents, their friends, and others his community competed when brought together to see whose outfit was the best or which individual managed to grace themself with the most gold. Often assumed to be callbacks to eras of the city’s diverse history, these subtle carefully chosen details allude to the home, the family, and the culture that graciously allowed Equihua to discover himself, a pride in his heritage that remains a part of his performative actions.
Equihua’s Los Angeles
But today Equihua’s performative are acts of defiance as he assertively occupies spaces. He exudes a disregard for proclaimed societal norms and hatreds that seem to exponentially grow by allowing all elements of his Gay Latinx Chicano identity to flourish. His presence redefines Los Angeles from the city he grew up in as a child. Where the city began as a representation of new freedoms, opportunities, and struggles, Equihua rewrites Los Angeles as a place of acceptance. As he poses amongst the city streets, skyline, and landmarks, he asserts his being in the town that helped him realize his identity and provide him with a new community. His confident presence asserts the beauty and power of queer people of color in this booming multicultural city. His art becomes the act of being where he presents his truths through visual representations of attitude. As he achieves this, fashion becomes one of the many tools in Equihua’s arsenal. We see this on set where the outfits he dons are more than clothing, but intentional details that aid him as he projects an aura distinctly his own. For Equihua, fashion is an undeniable form of expression. He tailors his garments to match the mood, experience, and emotion he wants to evoke in his audience.
We end with the Black Tejana. The hat, a staple within Latin culture, becomes a recurring element in Equihua’s work, but it more than that. This Black Tejana is an homage as it is the hat his father wore as he crossed the border into the United States. Now Equihua dons his father’s hat, a hat that symbolized his youth, his admiration for his family and the sacrifices they made for him, and the joy he has always drawn from his community. The hat now sits upon his head, adorned in fashion all his own, as he stakes his claim on Los Angeles as queer person of color unapologetically blazing his own path. Equihua has proven himself more than an artist; he is a persona, a revolutionary, a legacy.
To learn more or stay up-to-date with Elíseo Equihua’s art and upcoming performances visit his Instagram here [link].