Today we’d like to introduce you to Raelis Vasquez.
Raelis, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in 1995 in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States (New Jersey) in 2002. When I moved at this age, I thought that this process that I was going to go through of immigration was something that happened normally and that it was no big deal. I neutralized what was, in fact, a disruptive and traumatic experience. I was born in a Mao Valverde in “el campo” (the countryside of Dominican Republic) with barely any electricity or running water and moved to New Jersey into an entirely new American life at seven years old. Soon after arriving, I began to draw. I stuck to it and eventually, I found that I had something to say about my experiences as an immigrant of African descent from the Dominican Republic. I continued my research and investigations through my years of education. I moved to Chicago in 2016 to study painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I received a BFA from SAIC and continue to live and work in Chicago and I look forward to advancing my voice through the language of painting.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am looking for cultural silences and places people don’t want to talk in society and I work in these places. To me, the artist points their finger in the direction that not everyone wants to look. Getting more specific, what I’m trying to do now is work with representation as a vital way of showing cultural significance. I’m trying to represent people in their human conditions, which is vulnerable in hopes that one of the works makes you recognize yourself in there.
I’ve always been interested in representing the figure when I work. I think it is a way to be very specific and confrontational. Growing up here in the United States, I would rarely if ever see images of myself or my community that weren’t depicted stereotypically in the media. Therefore, you think that you aren’t worthy of representation, which made me very curious and skeptical. So now, something I am also trying to do is create mirrors that are more honest.
The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Financial challenge is something that many artists go through and I understand that it is a difficult task to confront while maintaining one’s practice. For me, the studio work is something that I feel I must do. It is a calling so it becomes a priority. I think we are talking about time management and I feel that if it is important enough, one would make time for their artwork just as one makes time to eat a meal.
- Website: www.raelisvasquez.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raelis/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RaelisV/
(This is the photographer who took the photograph of me in the Personal Photo section)