Appropriated Memories Artist Statement

Appropriated Memories
(1995-1997)

For the past thirteen years, my work has dealt the issue of reclaiming my Cuban culture. Before that time, I willingly acclimated myself into the American culture. As I grew older, I started to feel as if something was missing in my life and in my work. I wanted to investigate why I still didn’t feel completely connected to my environment. As a way of evaluating what was and had been important to me, I started to create images of my most treasured memories. I realized that those memories dealt with my family, cultural religious icons and growing up in a small coal-mining town in western Pennsylvania. Since that point, I have concentrated my efforts on learning more about a culture that I had separated myself from and a about country that I had no memory of. My work has tried to find connections between the spiritualness of the past and the spiritualness that I often find in mundane everyday scenes. I now feel more connected to the past and the present seems to possess a new sense of importance.

This particular series, the Appropriated Memories Series, tries to capture the fulfillment and spiritualness found in researching, finding and painting images of, what are for me, a lost time. These images are of an abstracted past. These images have become my memory. These are nostalgic interpretations of Cuba without politics or individuals; the untainted aesthetic of a country that I can not remember and probably never really existed. When I paint this landscape, it is as though I am walking on the island. I also felt connected to the other Cuban artists who have also painted some of these scenes and dealt with the same aesthetic and formalistic issues that I was experiencing in the paintings.

More examples from the series are available.