In what ways is art a universal language?
In terms of the need of humankind to communicate, it’s a way of communicating when words or sounds fail us. Art is the common denominator of humankind. In that sense, its intrinsic value comes from being a representation of an idea. Art is the process of taking an idea, that can’t quite be expressed in language, and physically manifesting that idea.
And I’m not just referring to the kind of “art” that hangs in a gallery. I have great admiration for the skill and mastery derived from years dedicated to perfecting a trade or “craft” like leather working, ceramics, or woodworking. Even cooking. I think that is absolutely an art form and shows our innate need to create, connect, and communicate with each other.
What are some cultural archetypes you feel more connected to and why?
I think we all have archetypes in our minds that tell us what or how a “Mexican,” or a “Latino,” or even a “beautiful” piece of art should look like. I have a lot of fun twisting and challenging those pre-conceived notions. I am Mexican, but I am also not only Mexican. I am Alberto, but I am also just a man, a citizen in this universe.
Archetypes that are so deeply rooted in our imaginary collective, much like “immigrant,” “war,” “justice,” “Mestizo” have such a deep connection to the history of mankind that they are often times difficult to separate from the actual piece that is supposed to represent them. That, to me, is a vast field of exploration and growth as an artist, especially with this project.
What is the impact of using clay to honor the memory of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico on the viewer looking at the piece? What was the impact of using clay on you as the artist?Using clay has been a life changing experience. I remember using clay as a child and have fond memories of it, but using it as a grown man really has transformed the way that I approach creating a piece. I cannot describe the feeling of connectedness to your hands, thoughts, and the soil, that sculpting with clay gives you. It’s almost therapeutic. You have to be patient and focused, but also firm and gentle. It’s something that comes from the ground, so simple yet so profound. I’ve yet to meet a master ceramist that doesn’t emanate this inner peace attributed to monks and religious men and women. Hopefully, something similar will happen to the viewers. It certainly happened to me when I looked at all a wood fired piece for the first time. My senses were overwhelmed, I was in awe.
The other day my girlfriend and I were at The Point Campus, working on the exhibit. A passerby saw that we had a small bonfire going and he asked us “What are you guys doing?” We explained to him that we were “firing” a mask. To which he replied "Why?… To get rid of it?".
It made me realize that for most people, fire only has the potential to destroy. But once you start working with clay, you realize that fire, or heat, is actually what makes a piece stronger. I think that’s a powerful analogy, about taking the difficulties that life throws at us and not letting them destroy us. Actually using them to make us stronger, more resilient. And that’s part of what I’m trying to convey with “Hombres de Arcilla.” Let’s not forget about the thousands of activists, journalists, men and women that have been murdered or disappeared in Mexico in the last few decades. Let’s not let the “fire” destroy them. Let the fire be what makes them stronger.
The "creation of man from clay" is a theme that recurs throughout world religions and mythologies, it is, in many respects, the first parent/child or family narrative. In what ways has your family impacted your creation/ creation process?
My family has always been very supportive when it comes to my art. And because my brothers and I are very close in age and were homeschooled by our parents, there’s always been this sense of collaboration. Especially when it comes to being creative. So Luis and Ernesto aren’t just my brothers; they’re also my classmates, my co-workers, my roommates, my biggest fans, my harshest critics, and above all my best friends. I know that I wouldn’t be creating this exhibit today without them.
Because it's always been there, like water and fire, clay is earth - an essential element for life. And since the beginning of time, cultures all over the planet have created masterpieces with just these three elements. There’s something very god-like in creating something out of clay. Because once it’s fired, it’s permanent. That fired piece of clay will outlive its creator.
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We are beyond thrilled to have the amazing Gabriel Chakarji and Carmela Ramirez playing and singing live at our anniversary!!! Their album Vida/Life will be also available for purchase!
Buy your tickets today: www.2anniversarybxaf.eventbrite.com
The young music talents Carmela Ramirez and Gabriel Chakarji get together in a creative period of their lives, where they decide to undertake a project based on their commitment to the Venezuelan and Latin American music. His constant search for new musical horizons led them to compose music thinking on the traditions of their culture approached in a contemporary way which quickly made up the personality and the sound of this duo.
After successful performances in his hometown Caracas, producer German Landaeta offers them the idea of recording an album. Combining his expertise and technical excellence with the passion and creativity of the young duo it was finished in just one day of recording. That's how "Life "was” born.
Recorded live entirely in Chacao Cultural Center Theater, "Life" presents 12 compositions by Carmela and Gabriel inspired in their direct influences, traditional Venezuelan music, Latin American folk and Jazz. The album also features a peculiar drum/percussion sound created by two percussionists Yilmer Vivas and Orestes Gomez that blends ingeniously with the voice and piano. It also features special guests Rafael Greco and Andres Barrios, famous venezuelan composers and instrumentalists.
"Life" presents a picture of a unique moment where art, creativity and sincerity were the only rule.
By Natalie Caro
With only few days left until we blow the candles out and make our big birthday wish, BxArts Factory is hard at work fashioning what will be a fascinating night.
Ruddy Mejia a self taught Bronx artist, a place that for him, "provided the perfect blend of influences.. to translate his passion into pieces of artwork that document, question, and demand deep observation[,]" will be converting collaborative pieces that move art from frames that live on walls to work that can be worn in the form of hard-pressed buttons.
Rudy is currently the Art Specialist at Bronx House Inc. and has most recently participated in “Outside the Box,” an event curated by Lady K. Fever. Also joining Ruddy we will have Eric Mendoza who is a local Graphic Designer.
Supporters will walkout with a hand made piece and make our birthday wish come true; contributing to our fundraising goal for the evening.
Contributions collected this night will directly fund our 2017 free programs such as Nesting the Arts Project, among many others!
Purchase your tickets to our anniversary party today and help us celebrate.
By Natalie Caro
In a time where big box stores threaten local economies, holidays have become the battle ground for sustainable growth in our communities. Instead of gifting iPads and other popular branded store- bought items, what about gifting hand crafted art? Our anniversary event, will provide an opportunity to gift a one of kind present.
For the last two years, BxArts Factory has held on exhibition an amazing collection of 12x12 pieces created by talented artists from the Bronx and beyond. We are fortunate enough to have a few pieces left, but we must return unsold pieces to their creators soon.
Our 12x12 pieces will be available for purchase during our Anniversary event. Each purchase not only supports a local artist and a local economy, but it also contribute to our fundraiser goal for 2017 and bringing arts programming to local community members.
Do something sustainable.
Buy something beautiful.
Bring art to your home and to homes of your neighbors.
When I reflect on the presence of Art in my life, I can only say it was always there. My mother is an artist and my father is a scientist who loves art. Our vacation consisted of always visiting old historic european places and museums. We appreciated art as a family.
Growing up, everyone always encouraged me to use my imagination and participated in my crazy inventions, theatre productions, ballet choreographies and costume making projects. They encouraged the development of my imagination and creativity by empowering me.
My community involvement began at fourteen. As a student in high school, I spent an entire summer of environmental volunteering, riding bikes through my hometown in Spain, trying to stop uneducated farmers from starting fires that would burn the forest, and identifying illegal spills. Later, I went on to France to work on a project where we built a recreation park out of an old castle and restored a historical washing place at a little lost town in the middle of Normandy. When I look back, I realize I’ve always been involved in some kind of community-advocacy roll.
Living life is a traumatic experience for most of human beings. If you find the way to channel frustration, ideas, creativity, imagination, fears, instead of burying them in the depths of your soul, you can overcome everything.
Whatever kind of Art form that attracts you, that’s the one is going to save you from being angry, frustrated, or incomplete.
I landed in New York eight years ago and never imagined that I could be a part of something like BxArts Factory, a project that brings together both of my passions, Art and Community. I believe Art means nothing without Community and vice versa.
By bringing art to Bronx households, I hope that everyone we work with feels as empowered and free as I felt growing up.
By Natalie Caro and Yolanda Rodriguez
As schools become increasingly test-centered and everything academic seems to be focused on standardization, the Arts are often the last bastion of imagination, creative learning, and play.
In an article written in 2008, Laurie E Hansen describes her arts in the home project and illustrates the ways in which "[a] parent art program is one way to enhance the visual arts curriculum in early childhood settings while promoting positive home-school connections and interactions with the community."
In much the same manner, our second Nesting the Arts Project workshop was an another opportunity, in a series of many, to work with 'parents as partners in Arts education.'
Virtual Resident Artist, Lovie Pignata, guided groups of parents to work together and create their original Pizza pies. Pizza pies made from paper, an easily acquired material. The activity sparked conversations and created an atmosphere of collaboration. The activity was successful on many levels that were modeled in the interactions between parents.At home, it can be used to aid in the socio-emotional development of children. Table top conversation help children foster stronger communications skills and vocabularies, which are becoming increasingly atrophied with the use of technology.
Cutting up slices is also a really great way of reinforcing quantitate reasoning skills. Sharing pizza makes everyone do fractions to make sure that we all get an equal piece of the pie!
We think you can do this at home. Below please find a supplies list and instructions. Remember to follow our Facebook group to watch videos and hear from participating parents: : Virtual Residency: Nesting the Arts Projects by BxArts Factory
Pizza Night is a fun art version of a favorite NYC staple, Pizza! Families will paint, glue, color and cut slices of pizza with their family members' favorite toppings.
--Pasteboard paper (or large piece of heavy paper) 1 piece per family/group
--Colored pencils or markers
--blank paper (decent weight for coloring, size doesn't matter, it's to make the 'toppings')
--red paint (for the sauce) with sponges
--shredded paper (a few handfuls from a shredder)
--paper plates (I have these!)
Using approx 20" circle cut from heavy paper as the 'pizza', participants will draw slices on the circle; one for each person in the group (or 2 slices each if there are 2-3 people). 'Sauce' will be painted on with red paint, allowing room for the 'crust' along the outer edge. Once dry, glue is drizzled on the sauce layer and shredded paper is applied as 'Cheese'. The pizza toppings can be used from the project's coloring sheet or drawn on blank paper and cut out. Toppings are added for each family member. Members can also make slices for one another, guessing favorite toppings before gluing them into place. The pizza is cut into slices and can be glued to paper plates and 'served'.
Art was recording music from the radio to later write the lyrics on pause and play mode in my composition book of rhymes. Art was laying on the bed for hours staring into the ceiling wondering "what is life" and my purpose as I naively scavenged through pages of the Word searching for understanding, the answer. Art was Bob Ross's happy little trees and admiring my name done in my dads signature graffiti. Art was the depth of my mothers thoughts hand written between layers of loose leaf --Art is my Life-Art became me... A kid who grew up Bronx, filled with beauty, edge and tenacity during the great 90's.
BxArts Factory began with a vision in mind. That vision is the collection of the experiences of an amazing group of people, including me. I have seen how art and community made a difference in my life as I made The Bronx my new home in 1997. I wrote, and served and that connected me to this new community. It helped me cope with the new world and language around me. Art was familiar, it was a language that I knew how to speak, it was a recognizable force that drove me closer to achieving my dreams. I saw myself in art, in a time when I didn’t belong any place or any time. Art help me remain sane, navigate my soul, my mind and my feelings as I suffered prejudice, was misguided, taken advantage off, or made fun off. I knew where to go to feel safe. Art took me back to that moment when I wrote my first poem and I loved it, took me back to the sounds of waves, of the wind, the smells of fresh brewed coffee, took me back to my mother and father’s voices, art took me back where I belong, now.
My father was a teacher, a farmer and an artist. My mother created beautiful dresses, arts and craft projects, macramé, baking goods and work as a case worker. Both my parents surrounded us with creativity. I created many memories with them. I watched my father work the clay that he collected from the banks of the river in Maunabo, and made beautiful vases. I saw how my mother turned a piece of fabric into beautiful master pieces. The patience and the love will forever stay with me. I will always remember that my parents wanted us to learn and create with them. My siblings and I became little apprentices. We worked with clay, we painted, we baked, we cut fabric, we went to collect materials to create art to the beach or country side. We were all a creative family. That was part of my upbringing. I just can’t imagine a life without art.
BxArts Factory is born out of that understanding. We know first-hand the power that art has in the lives of the misplaced. Art does make a difference in the lives of those that create it and in the lives of those that need to experience it. No one should be denied the right to create.
BxArts Factory is proud to introduce to you our very first Artist in Virtual Residence, Lovie Pignata.
We received excellent proposals for the Nesting the Arts Project, and after a very competitive review, we selected hers for its simplicity and family friendly activities.
Together with Wonderfully Made we will begin this unique initiative on October 21st. Our very first Nesting the Arts Project (NAP) will run for two months and will connect the participating parents with their artistic side.
NAP is a unique initiative created by BxArts Factory to nurture the use of art at home. We’ve seen the impact of the Arts, its influence on creativity, empowerment, development of confidence and unification between generations. It's also known to improve communication and emotional connection among family members. Through a series of workshops, we will bring parents and children together to create art. Our hope for the program is to spark parent’s desire to nest the arts as part of their parenting legacy.
Join our Facebook Group Virtual Residency: Nesting the Arts Projects by BxArts Factory to receive updates on the project’s development and exclusive content!
Why does anyone leave their house these days anyways? We can bring liquor or beer home; have our groceries or pre-made meals delivered; clothing and electronics sitting at our door steps in twenty four hours. Sports can be simulated on screens and our artistic itches scratched on snap chat. It’s more than easy to lose yourself in the way Netflix lives are destroyed by fate and intrigue; it is a miracle anyone moves a foot outside of their door steps.
I don’t know why I think of these things at bars, but I do. I sank into the white leather couch at Port Morris Distillery and watched strangers float from table to table and wondered what brought them out of their Sunday afternoon.
Each table was equipped with a different activity. At the front of the PMD lounge area, were tables covered in magazines, glitter, paper drawing tiles, plastic tubes, paint, canvas; all meant to tease something out of the brain. Toward the stage area, were chairs neatly arranged for artists to find inspiration in the moments of live models, which included Melanie Gonzalez and Tyler PSwitch Dow.
The coldness of the clay I cut out of the plastic packages made me wonder why anyone left their home in this heat. Slowly, people moved out of the bar section, checked in with Yolanda Rodriguez and grabbed their activity guidelines for the afternoon. Each person was given a list of the learning stations they would be interacting with and the gentle suggestion they should complete as many as possible.
At Elizabeth Ortiz’s table they experimented with miniature painting, using small canvases donated to us by Artist & Craftman Supply, Bronx store. With Jordan Laks & Twahira Kahn, participants used found materials such as magazine cut-outs to create new things like, refrigerator magnets. In the background, Laura Alvarez kept time. “Six minutes left on the pose,” she’d remind the artists sketching out forms.
At my table we talked about being hung over, and how the clay felt good on the skin, and how it just felt good to be out the house, making something. I think they were a couple, both in business. He was heading to Thailand and she had returned to school. They didn’t know what exactly what to do with the clay, so I asked them to mold something inspired them. They both made sunflowers, their own kind of sunflower.
Maybe, it had been the image of Sunflower painting donated to us at the last paint event sitting on the raffle table that still lived in some quite space in them, or maybe it was coincidence.
Bringing Art to Every Household.