Afaq I am a Sudanese woman and former refugee. When I go to museums and galleries in search of what is me or mine, I can only find artifacts that were stolen from me and mine. I often find that the only Africans represented in major museums come in the form of floating heads we call masks. In this self portrait, I too am a floating african head that was plucked from its country and brought to this one. Like the mask, I am put on display and consumed by those who don’t understand me. Like the mask, I was displaced without consent.
Afaq is a Philly based daughter, with grandmother tendencies. Assembled in Yemen (from Sudanese parts), Afaq considers herself a global citizen of her own country. She is an artist, activist, and educator who seeks to love the world until it loves her back.
Unidentified artist. Reliquary Guardian Head (Añgokh-Nlô-Byeri). A150
Tim Barton. Captured. #1156
Tim Barton My rested upon art form is creating boxes. My most recent work has been exploring Pennsylvania Dutch hexology symbols, which is why I selected the PA painted slid lid candle box from 1777. My piece, "Captured", reflects the candle box both in its "aged" look and in the hexology symbols from the PA Dutch tradition. Mr. Barnes related these PA painted antique pieces with what was then cutting edge modern art. What I wanted to do was to take it a step further and blend the antique form with the modern aesthetic within one piece. While still adhering to the Barnes ideal of symmetry through placement, line, space, and color. There are other references to the Barnes collection in this piece too such as the tryptic format and gold leaf used in religious iconography. As well as the idea of boxes being viewed as a less high art form much like the way Cezanne's work was viewed when he was creating it. I think I "Captured" it in this box. Like the "letsconnect" project the title of my piece is the jumping off point. Allowing the viewer a foot hold with which to start and using their unique experiences be able to explore my art and determine what it could say for them.
I am a retired US Navy Submarine Nuclear Operator, currently working as a Nuclear Senior Emergency Preparedness Specialist for Exelon Nuclear Corporation. While in the Navy I earned my AA degree in fine arts from the State University of New York (SUNY). I continued my studies at Connecticut College taking independent studies courses in their print making department between my Navy deployments. My work has been selected for many juried shows and is in the permanent collection of SUNY,the Holy Roman Catholic Church, as well as private collections across the country. I am currently an active member of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers.
Annabelle Buck As a portrait painter, I am always drawn to portraits at museums. “The Ascetic” by Picasso is a particularly engrossing portrait to me because even though it is simple in terms of the amount of detail in the work, there is an indescribably haunting nature to it. I have always felt that the elderly are not represented in art enough. Lately I had decided that I wanted to do a portrait of my friend Michele Haines, who is a French chef and world traveler. I was visually inspired by Picasso’s piece, but the spirit of my friend is far from that of the gaunt old man’s. Picasso’s piece is a portrait of a man who has denied himself in the name of God, and my piece is a portrait of a woman who has lived life to the fullest.
Annabelle Buck is a painter living in Philadelphia, PA. Her works tell intimate stories of modern life, revealing a timelessness to her subjects. She works in both acrylic and watercolor.
Paul Klee. The Last Mercenary (Der letzte Landsknecht). BF2531
Diane Collins. Primal Madonna and Child. #1063
Diane Collins The “Upper Rhenish painting of the “Madonna and Child” from the 15th century, with it's lush, idealized natural backdrop and rich, graduated blue sky felt luminous and dreamlike. Sitting with this version of the Madonna repeatedly I felt compelled to consider the boundary humans have drawn between nature and man through science and religion.
The core of human struggle is undeniably bound to the instincts and needs we share with our animal cousins.
Exploring animal as teacher, effigy, martyr and saint, I tease out the threads between my Christian and native origins as I explore where that which is sacred knits us together.
Using the animal as subject, I seek a bridge between that which is primal and cultural in honor of our shared nature, both rugged and delicate in the hope of spanning the cavern of concept that attempts to divides us.
"Animals may aid us in our everyday lives, in our dreams and meditations. Since they were created before humans, they are closer to the source and can act as allies, guides and familiars in our search for wholeness." - An Inuit Woman
EXHIBITIONS: Stanek Gallery, InLiquid, Philadelphia Flower Show, Cerulean Arts, Rosenfeld Gallery; “Art Alibi” Traveling Exhibit, Artists of the Redwoods, Mateel Gallery, Garberville, CA, Artist’s House Gallery, PAFA Faculty Exhibit, Wayne Art Center, Faculty Exhibit, Allen’s Lane Art Center, Main Line Art Center Faculty Show; Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY, J. Funk Fine Art Gallery; Toledo, OH, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art ASE, Philadelphia, PA 1996, Brandywine River Museum AWARDS AND HONORS: William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship, Ward Prize in Sculpture, Philadelphia Water Color Club, Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Club Works in Private Collections in the northeastern US, CA and abroad. Awards: Cresson, Ward Prize
★ Selected Artist Eric Goldberg Each time I visit The Barnes Collection, I find myself gravitating to the Vincent Van Gogh painting The Postman. Initially I thought it was the hypnotic stare of the subject that so strongly attracted me, but I now know it is more. Van Gogh has not simply painted an imitation of Joseph Roulin’s appearance; he has expressed the man’s character, his inner being. Van Gogh has depicted Joseph Roulin as a person of wisdom and integrity, a person of great strength of character who exudes both intelligence and warmth.
I am a fortunate man. I too have a postal carrier who possesses the attributes that Van Gogh expressed in his portrait of Joseph Roulin. Barbara Jean Griffin has been delivering my mail since I moved to my present address in 2012. Her open, friendly disposition was apparent from our first meeting. In the years I have known her, she has proven to be a person of genuine warmth, intelligence, integrity and wisdom. Barbara Jean is one of the rare people whose beauty is both external and internal. It was an honor to have her sit for me.
Eric Goldberg was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He studied at Parsons School of Design, The New School for Social Research, New York University and New Mexico University. He taught painting, printmaking and drawing at colleges and universities for over thirty years. His home and studio are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Goldberg’s prints and paintings have been extensively exhibited in the United States and abroad. His work is held by many private, corporate and public collections. Most recently a number of his works have been added to the collections of The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, The Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan, Syracuse University and The Boston Athenaeum.
Vincent van Gogh. The Postman (Joseph-Étienne Roulin). BF37
Maryann Held. Chalfont. #1025
★ Selected Artist Maryann Held This is a response to Karl Priebe's bizarrely beautiful painting, Miss Chalfont. I was immediately struck by this odd little piece. There are elements of the surreal: the out of place sequined hat placed jauntily on her head, the mysterious band clasped delicately between her fingers, the two starlings perched beside her, and the strange, somewhat foreboding mountains jutting up from the landscape far in the distance.
I chose to re-imagine Miss Chalfont in my own illustrative style, amplifying her beautiful skin with its subtle blue undertones, her precisely posed hands, and her bemused expression—echoing the entrancement I felt when looking on Priebe’s work.
Many of the pieces in the Barnes collection are examples of outsider or folk art, an aesthetic that Miss Chalfont certainly embodies. My response reflects my own interest in folk art motifs and design. In place of the barren olive-green plain, Chalfont is now surrounded by a vibrant, yet dark, swirl of leaves and flowers. It is a melding of the surreal and the traditional. Gazing back at you, Chalfont is prompting you to ask: what exactly is going one here?
Maryann Held is a Philadelphia-area based children's book illustrator who has been working professionally for over ten years. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Maryann attended the University of the Arts.
After living in Brooklyn, NY for several years, Maryann returned to Philly to work full time as sole in-house assistant illustrator for the Berenstain Bears.
Maryann now works full time as a freelance illustrator, where she pursues her passion for classic children's illustration.
★ Directors' Highlight Leroy Johnson Viewing and "Feeling" the paintings of Horace Pippin, specifically in this case Giving Thanks (BF990), evokes the memories I have of my childhood home. A large kitchen with wooden floors, a huge black cast iron, a wood burning stove, on which my mother cooked and heated that heavy, solid iron she used for pressing our clothes. There was a large kitchen table around which the adults in my extended family ate their meals, read the newspapers and discussed current events and politics. Like Pippin's kitchen, my childhood home was filled with handcrafted items, quilts, blankets, rugs, crocheted and knitted doilies, clothing and the like. Horace Pippin's paintings in the Barnes collection illustrate for me the descriptions and stories told to me by my grandmother, who was born in the 1890's, about her childhood. I see in the composition and palette of Pippin, a striving for harmony and security. Building a wall from which he can be an observer and recorder, simultaneously exposing his vulnerability and sensitivity to the viewer's gaze. A desire and need forged in migration, war, and existence in a nation where terrorism still confronted African Americans.
Leroy Johnson (b. 1937) is a mixed-media artist whose work takes the form of painting, collage, and assemblage sculpture. A native of Philadelphia, his work is poetic and reflective of his many experiences in the inner city. Johnson has exhibited widely, with past solo shows at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, Tirza Yalon Kolton Ceramic Gallery (Tel Aviv), Gloucester County College (Sewell, NJ), and the Camden County Historical Society. He has received grants from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Independence Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Johnson received a Masters of Human Services from Lincoln University (1986-88), and was a 2014 Pew Fellow at the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. He has been a participating/resident artist for several community-based arts projects, including for Ile Ife, The Village of Arts and Humanities, Taller Puertoqueno, and The Church of the Advocate, St. Francis Academy, in Baltimore. Most recently, he was selected for the Woodmere Annual: 77th Juried Exhibition at the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, in spring 2018; was included in the two-person exhibition “#WE HAVE NO PRESIDENT” (with Sara McEaney) at Marginal Utility, Philadelphia, PA; and was the inaugural resident artist at Art Barn in Amaranth, Amaranth, PA in 2017.
★ Selected Artist Delia King "#ganggang_put_spider_chris_yeow_e_haas" is a two-layer reverse glass painting
It depicts men on the block biddn'. "Biddn" is like a "roast" where you crack jokes at others expense, the winner being the one who leaves his opponent with nothing left to say as everyone laughs.
The original Picasso painting reminded me of the men I knew, the women volunteered for the picture, but I was stuck by how the painting was about men as a group, standing together, wearing their fresh clothes, biddn, and so the painting appreciate men.
I was also inspired by the hardware on the walls and wanted to include pattern into the painting surface of the piece to highlight the men's complexities and to draw the viewer into a deeper experince.
Delia King is 44 year old reverse glass painter and muralist living in SW Philly. She attended St. John's College in Santa Fe and holds a B.A. in the humanities from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton. Her art background is in experience and practice.
She recently ended a 4 year haitus from art to focus on mental health recovery. She was diagnosed with PTSD related to a sexual assault in 2014. She was recently declared well by WOAR. This is her first painting in years.
Pablo Picasso. Group of Catalans in Montmartre: Pichot, Mañach, Casagemas, Brossa, Picasso, and Gener. BF2049
Kelly McQuain. Mind, Heart, Soul (après Vincent). #1295
Kelly McQuain Albert C. Barnes didn’t collect work based on historical or social context; he assembled his works as a testament to the pleasure of form. Barnes’ method, however, poses a dilemma for contemporary artists: in this Age of (overwhelming) Information, is it possible to create work apart from the context from which it rises?
I’m drawn to a painting like Van Gogh’s The Postman not only because of its virtuoso brushwork but also because of its unintentional commentary on so many things: the bearded hipsters of my Philly neighborhood; the fact that few people write letters anymore; the way internet businesses have staved off the Postal Service’s obsolescence; that Philadelphia has offered massive tax incentives to lure Amazon.com’s new headquarters here—a bid that could turn life here on its head.
I like art that talks to me and keeps the conversation moving forward. The Barnes Collection does this, whether its founder intended it to or not. When Albert Barnes paired paintings with old hinges and primitive sculptures, he created a series of “eye rhymes”--visual pairings that call to each other and echo back. In doing so he created a living conversation about art, one that surmounts time. I’m inspired by the collection’s interplay of forms as well as its interplay of ideas. I believe that Barnes’ singular arrangement is a conceptual artwork itself. It teaches me to see the times I’m living through in new ways and to curate my life carefully. Barnes’ collection teaches me to honor the old, reflect my now, and imagine a future. That feels like a fragile message, but it’s one that needs delivering.
Kelly McQuain is an artist and poet who combines words and pictures in poems, essays, book covers, comics, and large-scale canvases. His collection, Velvet Rodeo, won the Bloom Poetry Prize, and his work appears in numerous journals. He has twice held Fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Recent projects include a series of Poetry Portraits that have appeared on the cover of Fjords Review. The painting series was inspired by Barnes artist Charles Demuth, whose watercolor poster portraits of famous contemporaries included the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and William Carlos Williams. When he’s not painting, McQuain teaches creative writing, literature, and film studies at Community College of Philadelphia.
Vincent van Gogh. The Postman (Joseph-Étienne Roulin). BF37
Danielle Morris. Alms. #1131
Danielle Morris Alms depicts a young goddess gathering her offerings to distribute amongst her followers.
Danielle Morris is a self taught street photographer who's style has been inspired by Roy Decavara and Dawoud Bey. She is a black woman evolving from her current state of black womanhood and looking to foster the embodiment of power, confidence, self love, and spirituality through the exploration, acceptance, and love of blackness and identity within that blackness. She is a hoarder of moments and memories and captures life as she sees it.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Girl with Basket of Oranges (Marchande d'oranges). BF65
Jonathan D. Pinkett. Karee as Dutch Burgermeister. #1049
★ Selected Artist Jonathan D. Pinkett
My selection for The Barnes “Let’s Connect “ is Frans Hals.
My attraction to Hals is focused on his barque style and because there are not that many
“ Realistic “ portraits in the Barnes collection.
As a golden age painter Hals was famous for his loose painterly brush work.
I wouldn’t describe my brush work as loose, but I do consider it to be organic.
The tronie I am submitting of my friend Karee is painted from life.
I chose Karee as my model because I wanted my painting to reflect the image of an African American.
And to pay homage to the frequent appearance of African images in Dutch Art and to stimulate some
reflection about Dr.Barnes’ historical effort to uplift the dignity of African Americans.
Jonathan D. Pinkett
Born 1949 Philadelphia Pa
Studied Filmmaking at The Philadelphia College of Art
Studied drawing and painting at the Grand Central Atelier. Mentors Colleen Barry and Jacob Collins
My work is an effort to deconstruct the diverse world around me.
I use a variety of materials and processes in each project that relate
to specific themes or personalities. Because I absorb and re direct the energy of my subjects, the portraits that I paint are, in essence, self portraits.
As an artist I seek to immerse myself in the conditions around me,
not to escape them.
My influences are Colleen Barry,Jacob Collins,and Romare Bearden Charles White, John Sargent,
My works are in Public, Private and Corporate collections
Frans Hals. Portrait of a Man Holding a Watch. BF262
DeJeonge Reese. Rooted. #1000
DeJeonge Reese My work is a visual representation of topics that tend to influence my daily life. I tend to be very observant; I pay attention to things others wouldn’t normally notice. Those things and people, is where I draw my inspiration for my work.
The most common themes throughout my work are culture, spirituality, rituals, race, and modern day ideas/standards of beauty. By experimenting with multiple mediums and materials I aim to portray my perception of various concepts and ideas within these themes in hope to inspire my audience to maybe think or look at those same ideas and concepts in a way they might not have before; to expand their minds to a broader perception.
DeJeonge started out as a ceramic artist during her undergrad studies at Lincoln University of Pa. There she obtained her BS in Visual Arts in the fall of 2013. DeJeonge decided to continue her art education in 2015 when she was accepted into the MFA studio art program at Moore College of Art and Design. There she began to expand her studio and research practice and began to work with various mediums and concepts. Her work focuses mainly on the spiritual essence of an object, as well as ideals of beauty by the use of sculpture, performance, imagery, and video. DeJeonge's overall goal with her work is to generate conversations about how we think about certain objects and ideas in relation to ourselves.
Unidentified artist. Mask (Kao Gle or Bu Gle). A277
Lauren Rinaldi. Woman Leaving. #1031
Lauren Rinaldi I chose Courbet's Woman with White Stockings as my point of departure for the piece I created because I've always been drawn to the artist's work and how he chose to depict real people and snapshots of moments in every day life. His work representing the female nude challenged the standards of the time, breaking away from the idealized and glorified unrealistic representations of women. In Woman with White Stockings, from the description on The Barnes' site, "a hint of narrative heightens the erotic effect. While the sexual act is not shown, it is implied. The nude looks seductively at a presence outside the frame-this is perhaps a moment post-copulation, as she sits awkwardly pulling on her clothes. The setting is strange, uncomfortable, as she leans near a precipice and rests her naked bottom next to a dirt path. This is not nature in harmony with the female body, a la Renoir, but rather nature used, hastily, as a place for sex." My painting builds on this visually, but my intention was to put the woman in more of a position of power. She is not immersed or in harmony with a bather-in-landscape setting, rather the landscape fades into the background and melts into an interior space as she stands and dresses confidently. Unlike Courbet's painting, her genitalia is not on display and the implied storyline isn't as direct, though the peek under her skirt and the act of dressing leaves the narrative up for potentially erotic interpretation. My painting aims to symbolically leave objectification in the past while acknowledging that impossible task, as women performing benign every day acts are always sexualized.
Lauren Rinaldi was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1983. She received her BFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art in 2006. She is represented by Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and resides in Philadelphia with her husband and son.
Gustave Courbet. Woman with White Stockings (La Femme aux bas blancs). BF810
Nancy Shell. Le Jardin L'amour de ma Gramere (The Garden of Love of my Grandmother). #1180
Nancy Shell Rousseau work places you at another place and time as if somehow you are in the past, present and future all at once. When I saw his work at the Barnes Past and Present or Philosophical thought I was immediately drawn to a photograph of my grandmother Nannie Lu. She was born late 1800's in the post civil war segregated south. Nannie Lu dressed in black dresses with lace collars just like the people Rousseau painted . Grandma kept a wonderful exotic garden in her city backyard where she grew vegetables and flowers. i painted her garden to mimic Rousseau's handiwork. Being with her was like being from another time and place. But her past was so frightful she rarely spoke of it. I learned about it one day because I was studying my French lesson. "Granny", I asked. Why do you keep repeating what I am saying", I asked annoyed. Because you keep asking me how am I doing and I told you I'm okay. Then the story came out how she was the biracial daughter of the plantation owner and her mother. The plantation owner wife hated her and would beat her if she did not speak French in the house to keep the pretense going that she was merely a ladies maid and not his daughter. She was not bitter though, you always felt her love and care by the wonderful food she prepared with her magic apron from her garden. She was a saint to me.
I am a Leeway Foundation award winning artist, Transformation Award 2015-2016 and Art and Change Award 2012-2013. I am a senior, minority, disabled ,female artist. My work centers on the themes of women, history and freedom. I am drawn to stories from the unseen and unheard . I work across disciplines including textiles painting. One work the Freedom Quilt Project Produced a 50 ft quilt to celebrated the 150th the signing of the 13th amendment to outlaw slavery in United States using the comments of 800 participants. I recently won at first prize Fleischer Art Memorial Adult Student Art Show.
Henri Rousseau. The Past and the Present, or Philosophical Thought (Le Passé et le présent, ou Pensée philosophique). BF582
Rachel Stern. Self Portrait as a Chubby Renoir Woman. #1082
Rachel Stern My work focuses on ideas surrounding beauty and power. What is the relationship between the two? When walking through the Barnes Collection I was struck by how beautiful and powerful Renoir’s chubby women were. Throughout the museum I encountered in his works broad backs, fat rolls, and big legs. I so rarely see bodies that look and feel like my own in spaces that celebrate beauty, so this experience was particularly meaningful. Back in my studio I considered the meaning Renior’s gaze, of these women as subjects. While I felt reflected in their form I found no meaningful feminist content and was concerned by the location of power. Renoir did not treat the women particularly differently than the hats and other objects which surround them. So to my original question - what is the relationship between beauty and power? Here I found beauty in the subject but the power seemed to lie with the artist and his gaze and gender. With the fate of the image now in my hands, I occupy both rolls. In my work I revisit moments from the history of art and visual culture in the pose of Robin Hood — taking them back from the structures which produced them and through kitsch and the equalizing lens of the camera redistribute them for myself and my community. This self portrait describes my insecurities as much as it does my defiance as a body which occupies a position of power often excluded from the cannon of imaged female forms.
Rachel Stern (b. 1989, NYC) is a photographer whose work challenges conventions of beauty and promotes escapist, constructivist fantasy. Her work images a world that might be, built out of the world that is. It is a kitsch paradise, a queer-washed history, and an attempt at hope. She received her BFA in Photography and the History of Art and Visual Culture in 2011 from the Rhode Island School of Design, attended Skowhegan in 2014, and graduated from Columbia University in 2016 with an MFA in Visual Arts. Her work has been featured in BOMB, ArtFCity, Hyperallergic, and Matte Magazine.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Nude from the Back (Nu de dos). BF976
Patricia Renee Thomas. Negrette with a smoke. #1079
Patricia Renee Thomas Exploring the imagery of blackface, the artist uses it as a form of self-discovery, and self-criticism. She considers the exploitation of the Black body, specifically the over-sexuality of Black women, Black youth, and connects older imagery with today. She challenges the Westernized idealized standard of beauty, the Westernized standard of figure painting, and the history of the use, voyeurism, and exoticism of black bodies in what is now modern-day advertising.
Patricia Renee' Thomas c.1995, is a Philadelphia based painter and drawer that is interested in the process of creating Art while Black, and experiments with the image of blackness in the Jim Crow Era versus the imagery of blackness as we know it currently. Thomas has been published in several Local and international magazines, as well as being featured in London's It's Nice That online publication, and had work displayed throughout Philadelphia and as far as Italy. She has won talent-based scholarships, honors, and awards, and has work included in many private collections including the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture.
Pablo Picasso. Young Woman Holding a Cigarette (Jeune femme tenant une cigarette). BF318
shari tobias. Amphora. #1302
shari tobias The specific item that inspired me: Geometric Amphora, c. 770–750 BCE. Ceramic, Overall: 16 5/8 x 10 1/8 in. (42.2 x 25.7 cm). A59.
Utilitarian Amphora were widely used for storage and then routinely discarded, just as plastic containers are today. I chose to create an experimental sculpture in the Craft tradition using a modern synthetic material (woven recycled caution tape) coiled into the shape of an amphora, as both a representation of an ancient functional form and post modern critique. It is predicted that soon there will be more plastic floating in our oceans than aquatic life. The caution tape is a plea for awareness, specifically the prolific use of plastics and polymers that are polluting the world's oceans and serves as an admonition to our casual environmental destruction. The juxtaposition further references the Barnes collection as a whole and how one is encouraged to view the connection of multiple artifacts of various media from different time periods.
Philadelphia artist educator, Shari Tobias, concentrates in murals, installation spaces, paste-up street art( #tagyourblock ), and screen printed soft sculptures. A Fine Arts graduate of UArts and an Art Education graduate of Moore College of Art and Design, she presently teaches in the School District of Philadelphia.
Kimberly A. Torres. There’s No Home Like You. #1068
Kimberly A. Torres I’m celebrating my multiracial background, as well as other people who are mixed and biracial. I’m giving us a space where mixed individuals can feel proud, accepted, and acknowledged for who and what they are. My subjects are normal everyday people that are prevalent everywhere. Although people may not be able to identify them instantly, they are still walking among us and still exist in society. I want to give my viewers the ability to see us as people and not just objects of fetishization. By utilizing portraiture and realism, it makes the subject be the focal point of the piece. One aspect of the imagery that I play off the most is the background. By creating a “wallpaper” that is either a symbolic merging of each of our ethnic backgrounds in one image or personalized to the individual subject. This further pushes the narrative that I’m letting each of my subjects say about themselves
Kimberly A. Torres is an Alumni of Moore College of Art & Design with a BFA of Fine Arts. She's a portrait painter who uses herself and others to celebrate racial identity for people coming from a multiracial/Biracial background. Her paintings are meant to represent her subjects in the dignified and respectful manner they deserve. Her interests in photorealism, color, portraiture, Northern Baroque and Italian Renaissance work are what’s influencing the use of portraiture in her work.
Amedeo Modigliani. Redheaded Girl in Evening Dress (Jeune fille rousse en robe de soir). BF206
Elmi L. Ventura Mata. A family of color at the kitchen table in the United States of America.. #1201
Elmi L. Ventura Mata The work investigates oil paint’s historical power as a tool of representation. My paintings challenge the Eurocentrism embedded within the history and tradition of painting. Family members, many who came to the U. S. illegally and are first generation immigrants populate my canvases. When living in times of political strife and urgency, it is fundamental voicing the concerns of a marginalized population. Power in representation lies its celebration of one’s livelihood. The work provides a point of dialogue; for communication is key in building understanding across cultural and social barriers.
Born in El Salvador, I was raised by my Grandmother until age eight. Then I immigrated illegally, twice and alone, to the U.S. before joining my parents, who soon separated. Feeling the wrath of abandonment at an early age, gave me the grit necessary to survive the unforgiving urban environment of Elizabeth, N.J. Adopting a new cultural identity is psychologically and emotionally deteriorating. The axis between suffering, pain and self-empowerment informs my paintings.
Hard work is integral to my practice. Knowing that my father sweats for his bread and butter on a daily basis forces me to directly approach the act of painting as a prerogative. Only hard work can justify my life choice to paint. Work narratives are told through the depiction of family members that possess large hands, symbols of manual labor and the hard work.
Ink on paper.
Elmi L. Ventura Mata was born in Chilanga, El Salvador. At the age of 8, he
immigrated to the United States. His love for painting blossomed while growing up in Elizabeth,
New Jersey from 2001 to 2012. In 2016 he earned a double major in painting and drawing from
the Cleveland Institute of Art. Upon completing his undergraduate studies, he enrolled at the Tyler
School of Art, where he expects to graduate in 2018 with an MFA in painting.