Opening at Neplanta Cultural Arts Gallery Tonight

I am so honored to be participating in this interactive installation at Neplanta Cultural Arts Gallery. Sponsored by @la_sala_seattle The Concentration Camp, an interactive exhibition curated by Juan Carlos Ortega is part of the 2019 La Cocinita series sponsored by La Sala. 😍 

Come discover the stories behind the incarceration of undocumented immigrants and the racist policies that target the most vulnerable among us. The opening reception is tonight, September 14, 6-9pm! I can’t be there because we were rear-ended and our car and we shouldn’t be driving it until we get it to the body shop.

The exhibition runs through October 9. 🎞 

Five of my films will be a part of the show, which features written material by Juan Carlos Ortega, sound installations by Camila Jade, and my videos.

This is such an important topic, I hope everyone has a chance to go to Neplanta as participate in this wonderful interactive exhibit!

The Hand That Feeds Us

I recently read Tracie McMillan’s riveting book, The American Way of Eating, which was published before Trump’s draconian immigration policies took effect.

In her undercover investigation, which took McMillan to work at a California farm, a Walmart, and an Applebees where she was drugged and raped, the author tried but inevitably failed to make ends meet on the money she earns.

The backbreaking work that McMillan describes while picking garlic, peaches, and grapes doesn’t even earn minimum wages, since workers are paid by the bushel or box rather than by the hour. No surprise, she was the only white face on the fields. The reality, McMillan discovers, is that only desperate undocumented workers will work for such miserable wages, wages which won’t even let them afford the food they pick.

Despite poverty, uncertain and often over-crowded unsanitary housing options, her fellow workers, mostly Spanish speaking Mexicans, are generous in advice and help. These are not the bad hombres and rapists that Trump describes.

I’ve been thinking about how I can disrupt the language of Us vs Them that dominates the anti-immigrant movement in this country. So I’ve started with a series of drawings that recall the style of Toile de Jouy, featuring images and statistics that point to the interdependence between our broken food systems and the undocumented farm-workers that feed us.

For example, Americans spend less of their annual income on food than anyone in the world. Partly because our farms stay afloat by hiring underpaid unprotected undocumented workers.

What will happen to our food budgets when ICE succeeds in rounding up all the undocumented workers? We already know from McMillan’s reportage, US workers won’t take such low wages. Who will work on our farms?

Don’t know about you, but I learned as a young child it’s better not to bite the hand that feeds you. If only our politicians had learned that lesson too.

The Lamentations Travel to Arizona

Mourning Embroidery 4 

Three of the Mourning Embroideries from The Lamentations series are included in Threaded, an exhibit of new works by 34 artists from across the USA who are engaging with fibers in new ways. Hosted by the MCC Art Gallery, the show runs September 3 – November 7, 2019.

My three pieces feature veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan posing as martyrs, saints, demons, and dead from Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Last Judgement. Embroidered from hair and tears onto military netting, the small clusters of hair define soldiers and join single strands to create explosive debris, dust clouds, and lyrics. No matter how full the composition, the embroidered contours are practically invisible from a distance– a visual parallel to private yet communal sorrow. Pure, simple, restrained.

Juried by María-Elisa Heg, curatorial fellow at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and Mark Newport, fibers artist and Head of Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art.  

Want to read more news? Download my Summer/Fall Newsletter here.

Collages from my Book of Hours published in Vastarien

I’m getting my summer reading on! 📖 Three of my Book of Hours collage drawings are published in the new Vastarien! Now in bookstores.

Get your copy of Vastarien Vol 2 Issue 2, and see my art on pages ii, 96, 150, right next to the juiciest short stories and poetry ever written. I’m just gonna curl up on the deck and enjoy my readings. There are some awesome art and spine-tingling writing in here, y’all!

Who said feminist art is dead? Nope.

Shadow Boxing Premiered at The High Wall!

I’m so honored to have been asked to show Shadowboxing just in time for the Seattle Art Fair. Woot!

The High Wall at Inscape is such an amazing program, and I couldn’t be more excited to have my animation paired with Amir Sheikh’s new film.

The outdoor projections have been visible after dark since August 1st, and tomorrow we will have a sunset reception with the two films, plus music, and a cash bar. There’s a suggested donation of $10 to raise funds for Shunpike’s ACES: Artists of Color Symposium, which is the absolute most amazing program. It was completely transformational for the community to be able to come together and stand witness to each other’s talents and stories. I have never experienced anything quite like it. So if you can support ACES, please do.

That said, you can get in for free with the code “High Wall 2019” is the $10 sets you back too much, because we all want for these programs to be accessible to everyone. oxox

For those of you who can’t come, here is a copy of the print interview that will be available at the reception. I get preachy, but you know, I’m not anything if not earnest and passionate. I discuss Trump’s election, deracination, what it means to be a LatinX in the PNW, and give insights to my process and animation set up.

Reception for Re:Definition Exhibit is this Sunday at The Paramount​ Theater, 5 pm

Selections from my Migrations series will be on display!

Curated by Seattle Art Commissioner and artist extraordinaire, Juan Alonso-Rodríguez, the exhibit features select paintings from my Migration series along with work by Arturo Artorez, a Mexican artist, and the Cuban-born Hugo Moro. This is the curator/artist’s second exploration of the Latinx diaspora, and it promises to rock!

At the opening reception, enjoy light bites by Tarik Abdullah. I’m bringing my hunger. Are you?

You are invited, so bring your love of art and fun company! Do come by the Paramount Theater this Sunday for the opening reception of Re:Definition 2019: The Latin Diaspora.

Special Guests: DJ J-NASTY & SHESGUCCI
Bites by Chef Tarik Abdullah. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019
Doors at 5:00 pm
Event ends at 9:00 pm

FREE! All Ages / Bar with I.D. Put it on your calendar!

The show continues through January 20, 2020.

The Re:definition gallery space is open to viewing during public performances in the theatre and special events. If you would like to view the exhibit outside of these times, please contact to schedule a visit.

7 FREE Things to Do This Weekend!

Reading by Louise Tiffany, 1888

1. Read a favorite book or magazine

Take a cue from Tiffany’s lounging reader and put down your device. There’s something delicious about reading actual books. And you can get them totally free from the public library! Thank you Benjamin Franklin for getting the public library started. I think of you every single time I check a book out.

Two Women Running on the Beach by Pablo Picasso, 1922

2. Go to the beach

Some scientific studies show that a trip to the shore is good for us, reducing stress and making us feel happier and more creative. Surf and sand. ‘Nuff said!

Wanderer above the sea of fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1819

3. Take a hike on your favorite trail, or a new one.

The leisure time default in the Pacific Northwest…hiking! In Japan they have forest bathing, here, we go hiking a favorite trail and get the benefits of lush trees and amazing scenic views. Oh, there’s the fresh air too.

Dancer and Musicians by Kim Hongdo, 1745

4. Go to a free concert in the park

Hang out with your fellow citizens and reap the rewards of your tax dollars in one of the many free concerts scheduled for the summer. Nothing can make a sunny weekend sunnier.

Picnic by Fernando Botero, 1988

5. Turn your lunch or dinner into a picnic

I know, it’s weird not eating in front of the T.V., but hey, it’s a time-honored tradition. Get your picnic on and rediscover the simple joys of going screen-free. After you read this post, of course. Grab your munchies and head outside while the weather is good. Bring a towel, blanket, or yoga mat and voila, you set the tale for your picnic.

Card Players by Paul Cezanne, 1892-95

6. Play a game

If you’ve been watching Stranger Things, you might decide to swear off the D & D for a while just in case it attracts demagorgons. But you can still hang out with your besties and play some games. I’ve got my dominoes ready!

The Sugar Shack by Ernie Barnes

7. Hold a dance party at home

I know, you’re thinking it’s expensive to host a party. But it doesn’t have to be. One of my most vivid memories growing up as a Cuban refugee/immigrant is that people dropped by all the time. The adults would have some cafecito, and then, push the furniture out of the way, put on a record (yup, back when vinyl was cheap and not a trendy collectable) and we’d all dance our hearts out. By the way, Ernie Barnes based his famous painting on an actual party he snuck into as a teen.

Four Things You Didn’t Know About Seeing Red

The color red

As a visual artist I’m totally into communicating ideas through color. It probably comes as no surprise that advertisers have spent millions of dollars researching which colors they should use to make you feel a certain way about their products.

These products use red to communicate vitality and energy.

Here is a list of four things you probably didn’t know about seeing the color red.

1. Red makes you hungry

Hey, can you bring a basket of bread right away?

It’s why restaurants use it in their decor, their table linens, and their menus. In fact, after looking at this picture I feel the need to eat some chips.

2. Red makes you faster, stronger, and more competitive.

If only I had the right color jersey, I could be like Jordan?

Teams in the NBA and NFL with red in their jerseys are at the top of their league. And in a controlled scientific study during the 2004 Olympic Games, competitors were randomly given either a red or blue uniform for their event. 55% of the winning athletes were wearing red and when the event was closely matched, the competitor wearing red won a whopping 62% of the times!

3. Red is sexy and grabs attention!

Bet you can’t look away!

Ever heard of the Red Light District? Okay, maybe not exactly like that! But we definitely see a correlation between wearing red and sexual interest and scientists proved it! A study run in by a German psychologist with collaborators in the U.S., found that college women who expected to meet an attractive man wore red 57% of the time, but only 16% of them wore red when they expected to meet an unattractive participant.

Must be breezy here!

Meanwhile, a 2010 study published by Psychology Today reported that researchers showed men rated the same woman as more attractive when they saw a photo in she was wearing red. The men who saw the same woman in a photo wearing blue rated her less desirable.

4. Red is really lucky!

Why, thank you!

In China, the color red is considered lucky, and the red color of the money envelopes brings you good fortune. I know for a fact that this tradition translates very well across cultures. Just last year, when my brother met his bride’s family in China, he kept receiving little red envelopes stuffed with money. He already felt super lucky for winning the heart of his sweetheart, but the generosity of those red envelopes made him super lucky with the in-laws as well. Turns out red is lucky after all!

Biophilia, A New Series

African Hippo

Jungian psychologists believe that the universal longing for paradise is a disguised search for the Mother archetype. This archetype is our primal landscape– Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Eden. At once the source of all life and also innumerable dangers, the longing to become one with this primal home is at the core of myths and origin stories all over the world.

Sealed Tent

I usually think of my camera lens as a sketching tool, one I use often enough for painting and drawings. But in this series, I use it to document how we frame and interact with animals, ecosystems, and each other in parks, museums, and other commons.

How can we reconcile our love and desire without at the same time destroying what we are grasping for? For example, there are only 50 recorded Blue Karner Butterflies left in the world, but I found countless more in a bin of unrecyclable plastic tchotchkes.

Cornered (Blue Karner Butterfly)

During this critical time, in which we are facing the mass extinction of countless fellow species due to the unchecked expansion of patriarchal systems of industry and global economies, I feel the need to record our communal impulses to reunite with nature, even as we dominate and destroy it.

Display (Poison Dart Frogs)

Sometimes I purposely go out with my point and shoot Cannon. Other times, I seize the moment and just use my smartphone lens. You can see more of this series here: Biophilia

Five Things Contemporary Artists Can’t Resist

If you’ve been looking at trends, trying to get a sense of what in the heck is going through the minds of contemporary artists, here is a list of five things that they just can’t resist.

1. Their own damn self

Chuck Close, Big Portrait

What, are you the only one who takes selfies? Nope. Artists do it too. The quintessential photorealist Chuck Close hasn’t let his disability or confinement to a wheelchair keep him from creating this nearly nine-foot high painting of his own damn self! Uh, notice that he’s ever so slightly above our horizon? That’s how he communicates his superiority. He’s making eye contact too, in case you wanted to ignore that fact, he’s gonna make you acknowledge it.

2. Cool People

Barkley L. Hendricks, Steve

Again. Do you think you’re the only one obsessed with cool people on Instagram? Nope. Just so you know, I think Barkley L. Hendricks started the whole thing. He made his entire career out of painting coolness itself. I mean, will you look at this painting of Steve? You WANT to be him! What I love about Hendricks is that he made black cool, even in the face of art world racism. Yeah!

3. A little skin…or a lot

Jenny Saville, Shift

Jenny Saville redefines nude figuration AND the female form in her work, no question about it. And boy, does she show some skin. This particular piece topped records in 2016 by fetching close to 9 million dollars at a Sotheby’s auction. Hmmm, cut off, recumbent female nudity, it’s not just for porn.

4. Life’s absurdities

Yue Minjun, Noah’s Arc

Okay, so this is kind of a two-for…because Yue Minjun’s laughing men not only rub our faces in the absurdities of contemporary life, but they also happen to be self-portraits of sorts. On the forefront of Cynical Realism, Minjun’s work will make you simultaneously wince and giggle. Don’t you just feel like this piece could accompany every single headline about rising sea levels you have ever read? Cuz I do.

5. Big pretty patterns and colors

Beatriz Milhazes, Açúcar (Sugar)

Oh, you thought contemporary painting is all about real subjects? Actually, quite a great deal is just about formal picture making concerns. Read abstraction. Beatriz Milhazes has made an incredible career painting bold beautiful colors and shapes, some geometric, some flowery.

I think if you look around at the art that is hanging on many people’s walls, you’ll realize that big pretty patterns and colors should really start off the list! It’s the kind of thing artists and art collectors can’t seem to get enough of. Sugar, for sure, eye candy indeed.