After viewing ONe Rad Latina‘s solo exhibition at Village Works, I was eager to find out more about the self-taught multidisciplinary artist. And on Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit her Bushwick studio and speak to her about her exhibition that remains on view at Village Works through December 2.
I first came upon your infectious aesthetic last fall on the streets of Soho. I then encountered it on the exterior of the New York Public Library, on the walls of Bushwick and in East Harlem’s Grandscale Mural Project. And this past Friday, I visited your solo exhibition One Rad Latina at Village Works in the East Village. What an amazing range of studio art on view! How did you decide which works to include in this current exhibition?
Most important are my faceless portraits. It is how I express my identity. As a first generation American, I almost always felt invisible. The faceless portraits also reflect my Dominican heritage, as handcrafted faceless dolls made out of terra cotta are unique to it. Another important representation of my culture that I wanted to include in this exhibition are my Skeletrex, the skulls that I draw. When my dear friend Kev RWK saw them several months ago, he urged me to continue to develop them.
And what about your designs? I love their flow.
They’re a reflection of my brain — the distinct way it works. When I was five years old, I learned that particular technique of drawing loosely and freely from my kindergarten teacher. And I love the patterns that emerge when I just let it flow!
Your works range in style from whimsical abstract graffiti to serious meditative portraiture. Is there a particular mode, medium or style that you prefer? That you feel most comfortable working with?
I love each of the styles. I can’t say that I have a preference. As far as the tools I employ, I like working with a palette knife and heavy acrylic medium.
Have you any personal favorites among the artworks on exhibit?
Among my favorites are: Primo Hermanos (First Cousins) — inspired by a 1987 family photo — and People Are Strange that I designed last year with acrylic, oil marker and ink. In both images, the figures are faceless.
Village Works is such a handsome space, and your artwork looks so wonderful there. How did you hook up with this East Village venue?
It was through Kurt Boone, a huge fan and documentarian of NYC culture. I’d known of him for years because he’s part of the bike messenger culture that I follow, but it wasn’t until last year that I met him. I was painting a mural at the New York Public Library in Midtown, and he was in the neighborhood photographing a protest at the time. Kurt noticed what I was doing, stopped by, and became interested in my work. He knew Joe Sheridan, the creative director of Village Works, and approached him about curating an exhibition of my studio work.
How did opening the opening reception go? How did folks respond to your works on exhibit?
It was awesome! And I was thrilled that so many old school writers attended. Among these pioneers were Mike 171, Butch 2 and SJK171 — guys who have contributed so much to the culture, but have yet to receive the recognition they deserve.
How can folks still see your exhibition?
It remains on view through December 2 at the Village Works Art Gallery, located at 90 East 3rd Street. Check here for opening hours. A q&a with curator Kurt Boone and me will be held on Tuesday (tonight) evening from 8 to 9:30. And there will be a closing event on Thursday, December 2, 7 to 10PM. A limited edition signed catalog is also available in the gallery.
Images of artwoks
1 “Untitled,” Mixed media
2 “Primo Hermanos,” Acrylic on canvas
3 “El Sueño de la Carbonera,” Acrylic and ink on cotton stretched canvas
4 “Untitled,” Mixed
5 “People Are Strange,” Acrylic, oil marker and ink
Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky