LOS ANGELES — Using bright colors in his artwork is something of a signature for visual artist Julio Salgado. But go deeper into the meaning behind his work, and his signature is really all about immigrant and queer storytelling.

"Whenever you're queer, whenever you're gay, whenever you're trans, they usually tell you, 'can you just not talk about the gay stuff?' Can you focus on the issue here,' and the issue here being immigrant rights," said Salgado.

What You Need To Know

  • 32 million Latinx people are registered to vote in this country

  • One local Latinx artist who is undocumented is using his art to encourage others to vote

  • He believes artists have the power to have a social and political impact through their work

Salgado is an artist who is undocumented and queer. Both have influenced his work which depicts key individuals and moments of the DREAM Act and the migrant rights movement.

While he can't vote himself, he's using his art to highlight critical issues in the hopes of motivating other people to vote.

"It's not just about the president or who's the next president or vice president, it's about policies in your city that will have an effect and the way that locally we live and so that affects everybody," said Salgado.

Over in Mariachi Plaza is the Eastside band, Las Cafeteras, and two of its members, Hector Flores and Denise Carlos.

Before the band came together years ago, they were friends and organizers in the social justice and migrant rights spaces.

As kids of undocumented immigrants, their music is a vehicle to make social impact, and a way of telling their stories to others who are just like them.

"We hope that people understand their power and their beauty and that in itself is radical and that can be political, but it doesn't have to be an angry politic, it can be a politic of love, and that makes change too and makes an impact for people like us," said Carlos.

The group saw this moment as a time to become involved both creatively, with their music video, "Long Time Coming," and politically, using their platform to hook up with multiple campaigns like Get out the Vote and Rock the Border.

With 32 million Latinx folks registered to vote in the country, Flores hopes everyone votes, so America can be the country it needs to be for everyone, including those who feel targeted and marginalized.
"People have real impact in their local areas, in their regional areas, which can have impact and ripples way beyond their neighborhoods and I think remember that, and push for local power, push for local organizing, and push for justice," said Flores.

So no matter the art form, Salgado understands the impact artists can have socially and politically through their craft.

"I cannot vote, but I can draw, and I have control over my art. Other undocumented folks, other queer folks see themselves," said Salgado.