Through their Ultra-Baroque polycultural work, Einar and Jamex De La Torre tackle topics of identity and contemporary consumerism. Influences range from religious iconography to German expressionism while also paying homage to Mexican vernacular arts and pre-Columbian art. They don’t consider themselves glass artists per se, but treat glass as one component in their three-dimensional collages, one that interacts with a multitude of chosen – not found – objects. Einar recalls their mother’s fondness for puns as a likely source for the brothers’ own interest in multiple layers of understanding.
Collaborating since the 1990s, the De La Torres were born in Guadalajara, México, in 1963 and 1960. They moved to the United States in 1972, transitioning from a traditional catholic school to a small California beach Town. Both attended California State University at Long Beach. Jamex earned a BFA in Sculpture in 1983, while Einar decided against the utility of an art degree. Currently the brothers live and work on both sides of the border, The Guadalupe Valley in Baja California, México, and San Diego, California. The complexities of the immigrant experience and contradicting bicultural identities, as well as their current life and practice on both sides of border, inform their narrative and aesthetics.
Gussie Fauntleroy wrote in the July 2009 issue of American Craft: “Similarly, in their art the brothers intentionally disregard conventional borders between dichotomous pairs such as high and low art and sacred and profane, and between deluxe objects and the detritus of everyday life. Virtually every assemblage and installation incorporates blown glass or cast-resin elements in sumptuous colors that shimmer, juxtaposed with an array of … objects, including plastic toys, snack food wrappers and old tires.”
The De La Torres have been honored with The USA Artists Fellowship award, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, The Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, and The San Diego Art Prize. They have had 18 solo museum exhibitions, completed eight major public art projects and participated in four biennales. Their work can be found in the permanent collections of Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Museum of American Glass, Millville, New Jersey; The Kanazu Museum, Kanazu, Japan; Frauenau Glass Museum, Frauenau, Bavaria, Germany; GlazenHuis Museum, Lommel, Belgium; and the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, to name a few. Private collectors include Alice Walton, Cheech Marin, Elton John, Irwin Jacobs, Terry McMillan, Sandra Cisneros and Quincy Troupe.
Guest instructors at Penland, UrbanGlass, the Pittsburgh Glass Center and Pilchuck, the De La Torre brothers have shared their multifaceted knowledge of glass technique including blowing, bit work and flameworking with students worldwide. In the last 15 years they have been creating photomural installations using Lenticular printing as a major part of their repertoire.
“If ever there were a case where materials and their masterful use provide a perfect match—and metaphor—for an artist’s concepts and themes, it’s in the art of Jamex and Einar de la Torre,” wrote Fontleroy. “How better to convey the rich complexity and alchemic intermingling of border cultures than through mixed media creations as multilayered, thought-provoking and engaging as the cultures themselves?”