Lowriders: cruising the color line

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This dissertation examines the use of color in lowrider car customizations. It studies the relationships among car owners, car painters, and car clubs in the process of selection, and manipulation

This dissertation examines the use of color in lowrider car customizations. It studies the relationships among car owners, car painters, and car clubs in the process of selection, and manipulation of color. This research studies how color is constructed as an element for individual and community differentiation. Also included is the examination of the influence of car clubs in the design process, the understanding of color by car painters and car owners, and the cultural values associated with color in this community. This research argues that through the use, manipulation, and implementation of color as a visual/design element, lowriders challenge, transgress, and resist the preconceived notions of space, aesthetic hegemony, and social disparity they experience. In this case, color as a cultural expression, becomes a pivotal element to narrate and retell their stories of struggle and endurance, as well as to envision a different world. This research frames Chicana/o vernacular production, and color use as being central to the borderland experience of this community. Finally, this research follows the discourse of taste, as this concept has been used to create social categories of exotic otherness and the perpetuation of specific aesthetic epistemologies. In this context, it presents lowriders as expression of a Chicana/o network of vernacular border knowledge. This dissertation concludes by framing the Low n' Slow movement, in the context of healing and emancipating practices enacted by subjugated communities in order to survive, give sense to their reality, and to envision a more egalitarian world.