Marionette Lifestyle speaks to the power of environment: how place, something many people can not control, can manipulate the ways in which we live.
The portrait is of Campos’ neighbor Andre, who is portrayed as an upside down marionette held by hands of fate. These hands flash the letter “E” as in “East Austin”, a neighborhood where Campos was raised and often felt controlled by.
East Austin, a once-thriving, culturally Black and Hispanic neighborhood, still faces repercussions from a checkered past, going all the way back to the New Deal Era. Federal redlining, segregation, and housing inequality have prolonged cycles of poverty and violence that the community has worked to overcome, only to now be faced with rapid gentrification and displacement.
For those from East Austin, it becomes increasingly difficult to afford basic necessities and simple joys if they continue to reside here. Take the McDonald’s Happy Meal Box on Andre’s lap, emptied and inscribed with the word “East”, referencing how even the smallest aspirations and joys for those growing up here are easily taken.
“This piece represents me because I have lived through poverty for many years. People can often fall into bad influences so I wanted to represent that through the marionette metaphor and the feeling of being a ‘puppet’ controlled by your environment.” —B.C.
Bieke Campos, raised in Austin Texas, specifically East Austin, currently studies Studio Art at Texas State University with a concentration in painting. His work is focused on his environment growing up and highlights the poverty and adversity he’s lived through. He hopes to connect others with his art and ultimately to inspire.