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Ester Hernandez’s Picture “Sun Mad Raisins” Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021


Ester Hernandez (born 1944) is a Chicana artist. She was born in San Francisco, California, where she grew up. She is of indigenous Yaqui and Mexican tumble.

Hernandez graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. Soon after graduation day, she began to become acknowledged for her pictures, which mainly represent women’s roles in society.

In 1983, Hernandez painted an elderly woman of Hispanic or Native American race. This picture was named The Healer. She went on that with 1986’s Mis Madres, a sketch where a woman holds the world in her left hand. In 1987, she painted two well-known works: the Dia de Los Muertos-inspired If This is Death, I Like It, which featured a woman carrying a watermelon on her head, and California Special, where a small girl sat next to a bag of food.

Hernandez in 1990 painted Full Moon. In 1995, she tributed a drawing to Astrid Hadad.

Perhaps Hernandez’s best-known work is the print Sun Mad, which depicts a female skeleton (calavera) picking up raisins under the sun. This drawing is a parody Sun Maid raisins’ logo.

Hernandez’s work has been comprised at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American Art, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, at the Mexican Museums in San Francisco and Chicago, and at the Frida Kahlo Studio Museum in Mexico City, Mexico.

Sun Mad Raisins

Sun Mad Raisins.

The poster mimics the design of the Sun Maid Raisins box. Instead of a maid, however, is a skeleton. The text reads: “Sun Maid Raisins unnaturally grown with Insecticides, Miticides, Herbicides, Fungicides.” “Salvador Torres as a young man chose grapes for W.A. Taylor Wine Co.-Almaden buys out WAT; Salvador Torres spends the summers of his adolescent years in rural and urban lifestyles. Los Baños, and Hollister, La Cienega, “San Benito Vineyards”, accommodation/ campsite for the enduring farmworkers.

Ms. Hernandez “Sun Mad” remark on serious pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, are used by Salvador Torres in a speech about the Toxic Racism Barrio Logan is lasting with deceptive City of San Diego Planning Department mistreatment of “Coexistence” fallacies between Plating & Welding Company’s emitting 21.0 Hexavalent Chromium deadly cancerous substances in our Barrio Logan air spaces. Salvador Torres recalls the dust-croppers airplanes flying two wingers over and around our many farmworkers camps then scattering the nearby crops. As children, Salvador Torres and others pleased in seeing the pilot, who on occasion would wave back to them as he growled past.” Salvador Torres

The origin of the picture is the poster by “Sun Maid Raisins” corporation. The “SUN-MAID” brand and “Sun-Maid Girl” trademarks became widely recognized by customers and the trade in a few short years after their making and foreword in 1915 and 1916. SUN-MAID raisins were the number one brand in America and were praised by consumers for their quality, newness, and good taste.

As the 1920s escorted in altering times and styles, the first of that would be three changes to the “Sun-Maid Girl” took place. These alter, the first made in 1923, helped update the brand but never changed the nature of the image that would forever be grounded on the original pose – a cheery Lorraine Collett wearing that now world-famous red sunbonnet.

After being unaffected for 30 years and with the new wealth in the post-war USA, attempts began to once again cautiously update the Sun-Maid Girl to keep her current and in step with the times. This 2nd updating is shown in the 1956 description to the right. The freshest update to the brand took place in the late 1960s when additional steps were taken to renovate the “Girl”. This version, confirmed in 1970 is seen on all Sun-Maid encloses today.

The “Sun Mad Raisins” poster attributed on the cover of The American Archivist has encouraged argument and discussions. Professor Richard Cox protected the cover, requesting whether company archivists in corporate surroundings could hold fast to any intelligence of professional ethics or assignment. To supply the situation to the debate, a famous business ethicist and archival ethicist explore the nexus of trade and the archival career, challenging Cox’s view and dealing with the ethical accountabilities of all archivists.

The curators’ politically exact program seems to respect work not for its artistic influence but largely for its societal pragmatism. This comprises moving suggestions of the incarceration of the Japanese in World War II also.

There is some magnificent material in this show, particularly for the years between 1920 and 1980, the decades of the great California getaway, when Hollywood created a new kind of fable that appeared to turn the Edenic on its head. In evoking glamour, complexity, lavishness, and sensuality, the films were pointing to what appeared to be a different image. Yet the new was hardly detached from the old. It was the warmth and sunshine, space and novelty, that allowed you to remake yourself, that created the gorgeous bodies and the opportunity for the new life and the styles – win clothing, cars, furniture, and architectural forms, all amply symbolized in this show–that came with it.

Inevitably, those things would loan themselves not only to draw, lampoon, and campy celebration – as in Judy Chicago’s Car Hood, or Larry Fuente’s outrageously embellished Derby Racer–and too happy modernizations with new resources and styles, but also to grainy journeyings of suburban homogenization, seedy commercial bands, surrounding squalor, racist violence, and imminent disaster: the boulders perched perilously over the fragile ranch houses in Joe Deal’s Fault Zone photographs; Carlos Almarez’s bright but powerful painting of a burning tract house; Ester Hernandez’s take-off screen print Sun Mad Raisins (“abnormally grown with insecticides, miticides, herbicides, fungicides”).

For anyone who believes that many of our cultural waves first break in California and then roll east, the most disturbing part of this show–and the least satisfying–is the last. It’s called “Many Californias,” swathes the years since 1980, and is almost unrelievedly dreary. The title’s reference is understandable: Although non-Hispanic whites will continue for another production to be California’s largest underground, the Golden State no longer has any ethnic majority – a demographic fact that prefigures similar patterns in other parts of the kingdom.

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IvyPanda. "Ester Hernandez’s Picture “Sun Mad Raisins”." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ester-hernandezs-picture-sun-mad-raisins/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Ester Hernandez’s Picture “Sun Mad Raisins”." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ester-hernandezs-picture-sun-mad-raisins/.


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