“I hope to challenge society’s constructions of what is deemed beautiful and sacred…”

all images are courtesy of Kates-Ferri Projects and Maria Yolanda Liebana

Describe your work to a person who can not see

My works are paper cutouts of feminine figures that I detail with pattern paper, plastic cabochons, glitter, neon paint, and piped paint on ornate wood panels.

 

How does the body play a role in your pieces?

Body shape and language play an essential role in my work. I intentionally search and select full-figured/”fat”/curvy bodies because I relate to them and want to celebrate them. The difference between the women who are the subjects of my work and me is that they are unapologetic. Body language and their poses invoke a mood, a feeling of what the figure is showing without relying on facial features to express an emotion, which one can recognize by the upturn of the lips. It’s through a tilt of the neck or gesture of the hand, and it invokes a feeling.

 

Do you discover new things about the body when cutting out shapes? 

Absolutely, I constantly discover new things about the body, especially when arranging the body parts on paper or the painted wood panel. The slightest adjustment in placing the figure can express a different emotion or invoke confidence or insecurity.

 

Can you discuss the importance of the model’s gaze in your work?

I find it interesting you mention the gaze when the subjects don’t have eyes. An artwork titled Mi Reina Cilia has eyes. It was the first piece of this series. The model’s body postures are the eyes. They control the viewers’ gazes through body language, color, and adornment. In my earlier works from my DEVOUR series, I focused on using female figures of dancers/ sex workers/ hip hop artists/plus size models. Their body poses and gestures hold so much power and control. The poses capture your attention, and they either make you feel uncomfortable or empowered.

 

What does camouflage body mean to you?

Camouflage is a way to protect or deflect yet still reveal what I am feeling. The patterns show off and seduce and distract from what is genuinely inside me, both the good and evil.

 

In your personal history, you have a tradition of dance: Does this play in work?

I’m so happy you picked up on my love for dance. Music has a way to move me and helps me express my emotions. Dance is my way to feel in touch with the sounds that I hear. I am not a formally trained dancer, but I have a love and appreciation for dance. In the past, I have taken dance classes. I studied belly dance for over five years and was part of a dance troop. Afterward, I took a few vogue classes with Cesar Valentino at Alvin Ailey. I loved being a part of a community and have formed many meaningful friendships. My dance artist friends are confident, strong, and unapologetic, living their truth. I pay homage to them in my art-making. They embody something I long to have, strength and freedom to be their true selves. I feel that dance reveals so much of what is happening inside the psyche.

 

What’s on your current musical playlist at the Kates-Ferri Artist Residency: 

I LOVE MUSIC! I CONSUME IT DAILY! It’s a direct reflection of how I feel and the state of my mind. I am obsessed with Kalis Uchis but not because of Telepatia, but I have been following her music journey for a very long time. She gets better and better. She is one of my many inspirations. I am listening to 90s House, such as Frankie Knuckles, Crystal Waters, Stardust, and The Buckethead, to name a few. I’m also listening to Dee-Lite, Bad Bunny,Cardi-B, Arca, Bjork, and especially Erykah Badu’s mixtape, But You Can’t Use My Phone. All of this is mixed in with the current pop music like Dua Lipa, and 90s-2000s music.

 

Your medium of choice is mixed media. Can you describe in more detail your mediums of choice in your current body of work? 

The materials I use are a combination of traditional and non-traditional art materials. The traditional art material I use is acrylic paint to paint a fluorescent gradient background. The non-traditional materials I use are craft materials found at local craft and dollar stores: spray paint, stencils, glitter glue, paint medium, stickers, plastic cabochons, rhinestones, kitschy pattern paper, and wallpaper. I use patterned paper and wallpaper to create the body forms. Then I pipe acrylic paint around the edges of the wood panels to create a frame around the mixed media collages.

 

What would you like the viewers to take away when seeing your artwork? 

I hope to challenge society’s constructions of what is deemed beautiful and sacred, but once the artworks are set free in the world, viewers will interpret them in so many different ways. I enjoy the various interpretations of the work.

 

What is next for you?

Once the residency is over, I will be working in my studio space non-stop for upcoming exhibitions this summer, fall, and early 2022. I am in a pop-up exhibition titled, In Praise of Magic at Paradice Palase in Bushwick and then it’s moving to Local Project Art Space in Long Island City at the beginning of August. I will also be in an upcoming exhibition titled, Maximum Self, curated by Yiyi Mendoza at Collar Works in Troy, New York. Opening in July at Bailey Contemporary Art Center, BaCA, CAMOUFLAGE: The Art of Invisibility, curated by Lisa Rockford. And in 2022, I will be in a group exhibition titled, Vernacular Glamour curated by Juan Omar Rodriguez at Cambridge Art Association in Cambridge, MA. It will be a jam-packed summer of making, and I would not have any other way.