A watercolor painting of President Donald Trump ripping apart the American flag unveiling the Russian flag is only one of Abram Moya Jr.’s works. Tons of his paintings are scattered throughout his house and garage where he prepares his next project.
Cultural and political exposure have always been Moya’s motivation when it comes to his artistic creations. The 68-year-old graduated from Cal State Fullerton back in 1972 and has produced over 100 paintings and sold more than 40 art pieces.
“I’m not a typical Chicano artist who does cacti or donkeys,” Moya said. “Mine is more universal. It deals with everything. It deals with starvation. It deals with the injustices of the world. It deals with pollution. It deals with going for freedom or reaching for freedom.”
Moya discovered his artistic talent at Cerritos College before transferring to CSUF.
“Some of the teachers were really amazed with the amount of advancement, but I was kind of talked out of it,” Moya said. “I was told that ‘You’re never going to make a life, you should just make it as a hobby.’”
Despite discouragement, Moya took his artistic talents to CSUF where he pursued his bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in fine arts. As a college student, he started selling his paintings to students as a way to pay off his tuition.
“I used the talents that I learned in Cerritos to do portraits,” Moya said. “I would sell them to different individuals for 30 or 40 bucks and that helped me pay my way.”
During his time at CSUF, Moya was a member of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.). He worked as a student activist within the organization and promoted the Chicano studies program.
The Orange County artist has always kept his culture close to him and views it as a way to learn about important figures who have impacted Chicano art.
“Some of the greatest artists in the world are from Mexico,” Moya said.
He praises world-renowned Mexican artists like Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco for their artistic political views.
Moya has contributed to four murals around Santa Ana as a member of the Santa Ana Artist Coalition.
The late Emigdio Vasquez is someone Moya idolizes and considers to be a great influence on him as an artist. Vasquez was also a CSUF alumnus and known as “Orange County’s Godfather of Chicano Art” Moya said. He was among the top 50 CSUF graduates who went on to become famous.
“He was mainly my mentor,” Moya said. “They called him El Maestro but he was like a brother, a friend, a partner, a teacher, everything. He taught me a lot.”
Despite finding his calling in his artistic endeavors, Moya has also been deeply involved within the community, taking part in over eight different organizations from the Orange County Latino Artist Network to the Orange County Human Relation Commission.
His community involvement influenced him to incorporate societal issues into his artwork, some being negative topics for him to tackle.
“They kept asking me ‘Why don’t you paint flowers and something pretty like that?’ Well this needs to be exposed, the injustices of people. By me painting it and bringing it out to the community, people could see and question,” Moya said. “Painting flowers was just a Band-Aid and just a cover up for what’s really going on.”
Although he is quite fond of the advancement of digital art, Moya said that nothing beats the feeling of having made an original painting from scratch. Artistic freedom is something he holds dear to his heart as it is what he said truly makes someone an artist.
“The artist should do what they want and let their mind and creativity just go,” Moya said. “I’m not into what sells. I’m into bringing out messages, bringing out information and for my self-enjoyment, because I like it.”
Moya has been in the field of art for more than 40 years and he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“I’ve always liked the whole atmosphere of artwork and the culture of it,” Moya said. “I like the freedom of being able to express myself without any hassles and that way, I can be who I want to be.”