August 28, 2010

Cahuilla artist makes concept cars

Provocative Art That Takes the Show on the Road

By Nick CzapHis first effort, “Conquest,” explored the intersection of personal, cultural and automotive histories. As a youth enchanted by automobiles, Mr. deSoto was playfully teased about his relation to the De Soto cars produced by Chrysler until 1961. As a Native American—he is a member of the Cahuilla tribe—he was intrigued by a vague familial connection to Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer who enslaved and exterminated indigenous people in his quest for New World riches.

Using the automotive industry practice of “badge engineering,” Mr. deSoto transformed a 1965 Chrysler New Yorker into a car he called the Conquest. He modified the New Yorker emblem, adding a sword and a pox virus—weapons that European invaders used, intentionally and otherwise, to devastating effect.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Pop Art at Heard Museum and Sculptures Made of Scrap Metal.

Below:  Artist Lewis deSoto with Imperial America.

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