The following THINKS to Think submission is a piece by the fabulous Chicago-based artist Yvette Mayorga. Enjoy!

Yvette Mayorga, “4 Real (Crossing inside a car)”, glitter, textile, and acrylic piping on canvas, 22.5” x 30”, 2017. Photo courtesy of Yvette Mayorga.

Sugar Coating

I remember being driven to school by my papi every morning listening to Leo Dan’s greatest hits in our big red van. The van was more than just my ride to school. It was an emblem of my position in America, of my class, of our class, of my family’s bank account. It was a flag for not fitting in. The big red bright color that I miss so much matched my anxiety around arriving late (to be late to school, to get behind). My white counterparts would be reminded of my difference.

I would eat sugar Twinkies and watch HGTV. As a nine year old, I believed having a newly redecorated interior was the utmost signifier of being American. Having a full-on kitchen with kitchen cabinets and a kitchen island (we had two cabinets and no island). Fake flowers in a seashell in our bathroom and the American landscape painting my dad found sitting in our interior porch were the most American things that we owned. Home decorating TV helped me imagine what the interior of my home could be, and then I could feel less different. The interior became a marker not only of difference but also of similarity, because inside my home I had numerous individuals who were like me. I spent the entire summer before fourth grade designing my own furniture line, each page filled with drawings of the separate objects that made up the living room or bedroom. I created a couch that had armrests made up of fish tanks. I imagined later I would figure out the way in which you could actually feed the fish without having to rip apart the couch.

Yvette Mayorga, “ICE ICE LADY”, acrylic piping on canvas, 20” diameter, 2017. Photo courtesy of Yvette Mayorga.

Yvette Mayorga, “After Cesare Auguste Detti”, acrylic piping on canvas, 20” x 24”, 2017. Photo courtesy of Yvette Mayorga.

Sundays were for shopping, learning about my sins, and eating. In our big red van we would go to church and then McDonald’s and then Home Depot. It was a Sunday ritual that was rarely interrupted. It was the only day that we had my dad for the entire day (a whole day to hear his jokes, a whole day to get to know him). The rest of the week was only precious car rides shared with him to school.

I remember I once lied about my dad’s occupation in second grade. Everyone’s parents were teachers, policeman, office workers, and my papi labored over the meat that was served in their homes. His job was laborious and glorious. Sometimes I would stay up late just so I could hear him walk in the door sounding tired and setting down his lunch box, taking off his shoes. I knew it was him.

The Latin Grammys were playing in my living room and I could hear AZÚCAR; it was her. Celia was my idol (her voice, her glitter, her presence). She reminded me of the luxury and glam that was possible. Dad said Celia sang at his meat factory every day during lunch. I imagined her leaving the Grammys – going behind the curtain just in time to make it to the meat factory so she could sing for my dad. I never thought about her travels (what car did she take? How far was the stage from my dad’s job?). Dad worked far. There was a conversation, she had to have a plane, my mind wandered. But he knew her. He had met her. Maybe the van wasn’t so bad. Maybe Celia had a big red van that she drove to sing at people’s laborious jobs. Dad made me feel big.

Yvette Mayorga, “Amerikkkan Landscape”, Digital painting and collage, 2017. Photo courtesy of Yvette Mayorga.

Yvette Mayorga is an artist. You can find her complete bio here.



Keeley Haftner
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