Discovering my cultural and ethnic roots and identity has always been important to me. My cultural heritage offers great inspiration for creating very personal and expressive art. I am Cuban, and my current series of mixed media paintings, Raíces (Roots), is a visual exploration of my experiences traveling to the cities in Cuba where my Great Grandfather resided before immigrating to the United States.
I have drawn on both atmosphere and location as sources for subject matter, along with my emotional responses to these times, locations, elements and spaces. I have created the paintings in this series using a combination of structural elements inspired by the intricate Spanish styled iron-work evident on Cuban homes (rejas), along with abstracted imagery of more natural scenes found in the countryside of the Pinar del Río and Havana provinces. The beautiful ironwork that still stands today is a symbol of the longevity and resiliency of the people on the island.
On every support, under the painting, there is structure, texture and dimension. I use a masking method to create interpretations of the patterns found on the rejas adorning almost every doorway in both urban and rural Cuba. This dimensional effect on cradled panels establishes a structural starting point for the compositions, and creates an underlying unity among the pieces. The following layers are created with acrylic paints, gels, mediums, and found objects, and represent my interpretation of the landscapes and environments that I experienced in Cuba. The vibrantly colored, naturally inspired layers contrast and balance with the more rigid and geometrical “man-made” underlying structure.
The inclusion of this tactile, dimensional element presents an opportunity for increased accessibility to the visual arts for people who don’t usually engage with art in the traditional sense. This can allow people who are visually impaired or blind to have an authentic visual art experience, by being able to touch the paintings. This also allows space for those with different sensory needs to be able to explore visual art in a gallery traditional gallery setting. I believe that accessibility to the arts is a vital part of creating engaged and vibrant communities, and through this project the public will be given an opportunity to learn about and experience art that is universally accessible.