I analyze hardship through two lenses that are simultaneously my own: the perspective of a white man and a minority. My landscape is one of timeless scenes where politicians are demons, poor people are warriors, and food carts are time machines. I meet with ancient civilizations to reconnect with the cosmos then return on a mission to heal dark realities. While my perspective as a Venezuelan-American artist who immigrated to the US from South America at an early age is specific, I aim to converse with all people through printmaking, painting and bringing art into communities.
I have gradually abandoned the idea of a finalized edition print in pursuit of more intimate interactions with the process. Hand carving and hand printing are methods that mimic my vision. Hand printing rebels against the traditional printing press while upholding rough and plebeian techniques. Just as Sigmar Polke used printmaking as a mark-making tool instead of a plate, I have used the print to highlight characters in a scene. In Tappan Patriots, the printed and vibrant native figure coyly points a plastic bottle at ghostly painted patriots, adding to the contextual tension in a war between mediums. The stamping effect suggests the historical figures were somehow forced to exist in that space, and the bottle further suggests the relevance of that struggle today.
If I Could Build Anything I Wanted was an opportunity to present the bare woodcut in a new way. I sought to interact with the community in my neighborhood and participated in the “Interlude Project” at FiveMyles Gallery. Carved directly into the green walls of a construction site in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is a scene that engages anyone walking by, inviting them to consider what elements of the past, present and future spaces hold and what possibilities exist. The woodblock itself has become the art, blending and enriching the visual environment. I am currently working on the second 8 x 12 foot project that was commissioned based on the success of the current installation, which has been kept on exhibit for nearly one year. The project encourages the community to reclaim space and transforms the city’s constant development into sites of collective imagination.
Because of my personal interest in the collapse of Venezuela, I came across an image of an Arepa, a Venezuelan food staple that a street vendor wrapped in Bolivares (the Venezuelan currency) for his customers. The image captivates me. What happens to a country when their currency is worthless? Is money the answer to every question that involves destruction? Dirty Money was an interactive action that I performed in Jamaica, Queens in anticipation to working with No Longer Empty, an organization that concentrates on community based art exhibitions. The focus of the interactive project was to find art in every day life; in the routines that people do everyday. I wanted to bring art into the hustle and grind of the numerous and tremendously diverse street vendors of Jamaica by supplying them with printed napkins. Perhaps someone took my art home and quietly asked his or herself some of the same questions that I have about money and power.
The political is social whether it’s interactive or simply engaging the ideas about how power structures affect us all. For the past two years, I have been drawing people found in news headlines from internet search results for “Venezuela.” For the ongoing series, In Other News, Venezuela…, I draw the portrait of the person who shows up first in the search and is in any way involved in the protests, politics and catastrophic collapse of Venezuela. The practice has become the art itself; the waiting, the absurdity, the protocol under which the Americas operate, names that will soon be forgotten unless otherwise documented. Maduro, John Kerry, and other less famous players like Lilian Tintori, wife of the imprisoned opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who is in jail, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, and The President of Guyana, David Granger. Now over fifty portraits, the series has influenced my drawing and painting by allowing me to create my version of current events.
It would be a great honor to receive the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, which would afford me the ability to continue to expand and share my fieldwork in the form of art. The demon, astronaut, monolith, Venus, and political leaders are all versions of me turned inside out, exposing my polarity and inner battles to confront the connections between these histories, current events, and my life. I still question my parents’ decision to leave Caracas and the decisions we made later as illegal immigrants living in the U.S. I have questioned these choices all my life. It is a decision that I believe many families make all over the world. My interest in life and art is to find answers through printmaking and proposing new projects that deal with traditional and interactive ways for the public to absorb art.
BFA – State University of New York at Purchase, 2004
American Monarchy, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, New York, NY
In 3’s, El Zaguán Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Nuevas Culturas, El Zaguán Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
The Interlude Project, FiveMyles, Brooklyn, NY
Reverberations, Print Think 2016, Stella Elkins Gallery, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Artist in Residence Works in Progress Exhibition, Maxon Mills Gallery, The Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY
The Korean Contemporary Printmakers Association Annual Exhibition, Gyeong Hui Gung Annex Bldg., Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
The Interlude Project, FiveMyles, Brooklyn, NY
Connected, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, New York, NY
Source: A project of Artists Alliance Inc, Superchief Gallery at CultureFix, New York, NY
Locals Only, Janet Lippincott Studio, Santa Fe, NM
Zaguanistas, El Zaguán Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Small Works Show, El Zaguán Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Enrique Figueredo & Rocco DePietro, Tabor Hill Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
The Wassaic Artist Residency, The Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY, Work-Exchange Fellowship, March – April, 2016
The League Residency At Vyt, Orangeburg, NY, Ruth Katzman Scholarship, January, 2016
Lower East Side Studio Program, New York, NY, May – July, 2014
Historic Santa Fe Foundation Artist Residency, Santa Fe, NM, April 2009 – April 2010
PROGRAMS & EVENTS
BIG INK, Exchange Street Open Studios, Pawtucket, RI, September, 2016
Jameco Exchange, in collaboration with No Longer Empty, Jamaica, Queens, July, 2016
Guttenberg Arts, Braddock Park Art Festival, Steamroller Printmaking, North Bergen, NJ, June, 2016
BIG INK, Pickwick Independent Press, Portland, ME, June, 2015
What Are Doing, Art Anthology Zine, edition of 56, Zoárd Prints, 2015
Crown Heights Art Gallery FiveMyles Rescues Sidewalk With Art, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 2015