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Ester Hernandez takes on Sun-Maid Raisins

Sun Mad , 1982, silkscreen by Ester Hernandez (b.1944), 26 x 20 in. ©Ester Hernandez

Sun Mad, 1982, silkscreen by Ester Hernandez (b.1944), 26 x 20 in. ©Ester Hernandez

The Sun-Maid Raisins logo as it has appeared since 1970.

The Sun-Maid Raisins logo as it has appeared since 1970.

Appropriating the iconic product design for Sun-Maid Raisins, Ester Hernández makes a scathing statement about the treatment of American farm workers. As a Chicana artist born to farm worker parents in California, Ester Hernández (b.1944) was aware of the Farm Workers Movement from a young age. Labour unions sought improved conditions for those exposed to dangerous pesticides through work and contaminated water supplies, as well as better pay. Their concerns had been neglected in part because many of the affected people were from immigrant backgrounds, leading to eventual labour strikes like the Delano grape strike beginning in 1965. Hernandez drew on these instances to create her Sun Mad print, co-opting the popular raisin brand’s design in Warholian fashion. Unlike Warhol, she made adjustments to the logo, replacing the happy grape picker with a skeleton and adjusting the taglines. The skeleton is a reference to the harm caused by the working conditions in the fields but can also be viewed as a nod to traditional Mexican Day of the Dead imagery.