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Enrique Chagoya


B. 1953
American; born in Mexico

Artist Enrique Chagoya was born and raised in Mexico City in the mid-20th century. His father, a bank employee by day and artist by night, encouraged his young son’s interest in art by teaching him color theory and how to sketch. As a young adult, Chagoya enrolled in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he studied political economy and contributed political cartoons featured in union newsletters. He relocated to Veracruz and directed a team focused on rural-development projects, a time he describes as “an incredible growing experience…[that] made me form strong views on what was happening outside in the world.” This growing political awareness would later surface in Chagoya’s art. At age 26, Chagoya moved to Berkeley, California, and worked as an illustrator and graphic designer. Disheartened by what he considered the narrow political scope of economics programs in local colleges, Chagoya turned his focus to art. He enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute, earning a BFA in printmaking in 1984, and later pursued graduate degrees at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987. 

Collector Davis Riemer says of Chagoya that “he focuses much of his art on the immigrant experience in the U.S., which often includes references to monetarism, materialism, the excessive burdens of capitalism on the poor, and how we exclude minorities from the mainstream.” When plugged in and connected to the internet, his kinetic sculpture, One Recession Watchdog (Instant Update), shows the U.S. national debt as it increases each second, along with each person’s share in the upper right corner. The front of the sculpture features a humorously altered dollar bill featuring a submerged George Washington in a goldfish bowl, along with other clever references to the dubious state of the U.S. economy and its debt. Chagoya illustrates how the issue is overwhelmingly big, beyond control, and seemingly on the verge of collapse. 

Influenced by the immigrant experience, his interest in highlighting socio-political and economic disparities, sharp wit, and keen sense of humor have shaped Chagoya’s extensive career over the past 30+ years. He has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including several retrospectives. He currently teaches at Stanford University, and his work can be found in many public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, among others.


Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.