Ammo Bunker (2009) is a multipart installation that includes large-scale wall prints and an architectural model. The work takes as its departure point the history of Wilmington, Ybarra’s native hometown in southern Los Angeles. The piece refers to a Civil War era ammunition store that Ybarra found at the heart of the harbor close to Long Beach. The facility was later used as a temporary prison to hold different people coming from Mexico to Los Angeles during the Civil War.
Mario Ybarra Jr. belongs to a generation of Mexican-American artists who embrace their double heritage and use it in order to create critical and compelling artistic work. Ybarra is based in Los Angeles, where he grew up, and a large part of his artistic practice has grown out of issues related to his upbringing in the Chicano community of Wilmington. He consistently explores the culture and politics of the West Coast to produce, as he says, contemporary art that is filtered through a Mexican-American experience. Ybarra is not only a multifaceted artist, but also works as an educator, gallerist, activist, and social anthropologist.