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Art & Life with Jesus Hilario-Reyes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesus Hilario-Reyes.

Jesus, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My family comes from the Dominican Republic, specifically Santiago and Santo Domingo, most of my family emigrated to Puerto Rico in the 80s, I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was raised there as well as Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A very odd pairing but that’s where my mother could find work. Culturally Milwaukee and Puerto Rico are obviously very different, but my mother always made sure to surround my siblings and I with our culture. I see my uprising as a hurricane, as a child-going through these constant changing winds, I clung to making as a way to reflect and transform what was happening around and within me.

I initially grew frustration from difference but quickly learned to appreciate mine.

I kept my family busy with shows and engagements I was a part of, ranging from dance (Ballet, Latin, Breakdance) to art openings. I was heavily involved with the Milwaukee art community, interning at TRUE Skool, and the Milwaukee Art Museum and being a resident at Redline MKE; ultimately these organizations really fostered an interest in community building. The visual arts broadened my world view and coming to Chicago for art school really expanded my practice. I began to work more interdisciplinary, working with performance and sculpture, then progressed into sound and film. I began to find and build my own community of artists in Chicago, and am grateful to be a part of such a promising and supportive community.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Working primarily in performance, sound and film, I invoke familial history and folklore to challenge dominant narratives surrounding sexuality, race, and gender. I create work that elaborates the conversation on intersectionality, using it to complicate and abstract representation. Thus working to reimagine cultural identity.

Through the use of calamity and exhaustion my performance works explore the imagined crossroads as a space of intersectionality. I conceive forms of violence which work to activate or to cool emotionally charged spaces, to be an inherent act of queering. A behavior akin to a hurricane, these iterations work to dismantle representation and make it ambiguous.

Drawing heavily from futurisms, nightlife and Carnaval I invoke the viewer to cultivate ulterior forms of existing. I rely on ritual practices to generate the foundation supporting my work.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I’m not too sure if life is easier or harder for artists now, given I only have my experience to speak on. I know that the internet/social media is a powerful tool for artist to be able to brand themselves and get their work out there, and it’s definitely I tool I’ve been trying to master. I do believe that Chicago has a very established artist community and once you begin to become present in these spaces, people will begin to recognize you and your work quicker. I think Chicago is a good city for any up and coming artist; that once you find your community and line of support it is easier to thrive here. You really just need to be present, by going out to shows weekend and supporting your friends you’ll really begin to make the connections you need. This is one of the reason why I love Chicago, the sense of community is really strong here and people are genuinely here to support you, well this has been the case for me.

I think something that I see other cities doing more, is giving young artists a credible platform to showcase their work online, I think that the work coming out of Chicago is some of the most important, but in my opinion it does not receive the recognition it deserves.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I currently have a sound performance entitled ‘Akin to the Hurricane’ that I’ll be doing multiple iterations of in the next coming months, this will also be a collaborative effort with other Chicago artists. I’m also a DJ, (Morenxxx) and I’m often booked for a couple shows a month.

The best ways to keep up with my work is to visit my website which I update quite frequently, jesushilario.com. Also people can follow me on Instagram (@jes_hilario) where I post all of my upcoming shows and performances.

I just got back from ACRE Residency, and should be exhibiting work in the next year. I’m looking forward to my BFA show that happens sometime this spring.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Akin to the Hurricane. Iteration 04 / photo taken by Ryan Bach

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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