I was born in Lima Peru and raised by my grandmother Haydee who was born in Andahuaylas. Haydee had six sisters, was married at twenty-one, and spent a lifetime caring for her husband and family. She was the fourth of six daughters raised in a matriarchal family. Although I live and work in the United States I visit Peru annually to visit my beloved grandmother. She has taught me to remember and understand my Peruvian roots and culture, and to enjoy living the life of an artist.
Although I live in the US my heart and mind are still in Peru, where 90% of my family and close relationships reside. I find comfort and joy in creating images reminiscent of my cultural heritage and language. I wish to share the beauty, history and character of Peru with my viewers.
I received my BFA in Drawing and Painting from Cal State University Long Beach (2012-2015). The final portfolio of works created during my tenure at the university was La Vie en Noir (Life in Black). This portfolio included fifteen life-size portraits (38 x 50) in charcoal on Lenox paper. This series began with a self-portrait The Golden Shower, where I posed as Santa Rosa de Lima (patron saint of Lima, Peru) holding up a creepy, ugly baby in lieu of baby Jesus in one hand as golden rays fall from above as if from God. These portraits, including my self-portrait call attention to erroneous religious dogma, beliefs and sacrilege, relationships and domestic violence. The art of portrait making allows the painter to delve into the private life of the sitter and allows the sitter to share personal experiences and life stories.
My next portfolio of works Punky Llama Party (2015-2018) returns to my roots in Peru through friendly “portraits” of llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña, four south American native camelid, members of the camel family. The llama and alpaca are domestic, while the guanaco and vicuña are wild. They are used for fur and meat, and as pack animals. The Inca valued vicuñas highly for their wool, and it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear vicuña garments; today the vicuña is the national animal of Peru and appears in the Peruvian coat of arms. In these portraits I portray these beautiful animals as resilient, strong, graceful, and funny, with personalities of their own.
The word vicuña is also used as a slur for “Cholo” or “Indian.” The Indians are sometimes given the name “cara de vicuña” (face of an animal). In Peru there is a practice of self-loathing towards our indigenous “Quechua hablante” (Quechua speakers). When an individual has brown skin, they are referred to as “Cholos.” Ironically, the word Cholo can be used as an insult or as a badge of pride. You may hear the phrase “Los Peruanos son tan feos” (The Peruvians are so ugly) referring to their indigenous features. Many of my works ask the questions, “Why don’t we see the beauty in our country and people?” and “Why do we want to rid ourselves of indigenous features and heritage?”
Beginning in 2017 I began producing Aguayos, a series of mixed media works inspired by Andean textiles. These works came from my experience working as an assistant for experimental French artist, Paulin Paris, the great-grandson of Carolus Duran, a precursor to the Impressionists. Paulin employed a straw marquetry or straw-painting technique, developed in 18th Century Europe. Marquetry is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. I began utilizing marquetry techniques with “ribbons” from straw to create a series of 2-dimensional works where colored straw ribbons are glued to wood panel. The final textile-like image invites the viewer to imagine touching the colorful surface.
During my work with Paris I was inspired by the great number of colors available and was reminded of Andean textiles with their vibrant, neon colors. My source material is industrially made Peruvian blankets that are easily available at any market. In an effort to be more respectful, I am very careful not to use images of textiles designed by living Peruvian indigenous artists.
In my studio I practice a private ritual. When I show up in the studio I begin my cleaning the space to clear my head. I make it all clean - I clean the palette, I put music on, and I stare aimlessly, drink coffee and smoke. I play games with myself to not overthink the process or to make any specific plans. I place many in-process works on the wall, mix up one color in a variety of viscosities and paint the same color on each canvas or wood panel. On one day I will work only in tinted white, the next I will glaze or paint in transparent green or blue. My catch phrase is to “hit-up as many images as I can.” This arbitrary process leads to experimentation, sometime successful, sometimes not.
Most recently on my travels back to Peru I have become increasingly concerned about the social injustice experienced by the indigenous peoples of my country. I attended a series of forums presented by the Central Cultural de España and the Peruvian Ministerio de Cultura to inspire a new portfolio of works based on prejudice and class. My upcoming portfolio of works will focus on the division between the dark-skinned indigenous peoples with native language and little access to health and education and the fair skinned residents of the capital, Lima, with Spanish last names, language, and privilege.
My hope for this upcoming portfolio is to highlight an imagined society where members are recognized despite their color or class and where ancient cultures and language are kept alive and strong. Even in my own family, where we once spoke Quechua, but now because of migration and assimilation the younger generation does not remember their original language. Through my future social political art works I hope to defy the current of cultural colonization that many countries are facing today including my homeland Peru