Friday, November 14, 2014

2015 Exhibition at Queen University of Charlotte

Excited to be a part of this exhibition

ARTE LATINO NOW exhibits the works of Latino artists who will be selected by national competition. The show will highlights the exciting cultural and artistic contributions of Latinos in the United States. Sponsored by the Center for Latino Studies at Queens, Friends of Art at Queens, and the Departments of Art and World Languages in partnership with artist Edwin Gil and ArtSí.
Opening Reception:
Thursday, February 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Exhibit Hours:
Weekdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Weekends 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Max L. Jackson Gallery, Watkins Building, Queens University of Charlotte Main Campus

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overcoming Displacement

We all have a cultural identity that is formed by family, community, country, and the world in which we live. Today, selfies aid in constructing identity by providing a new mode and venue for negotiating values, perceptions, and assertions. I present myself and my Latino identity via my selfies. I act both as artist and subject, allowing complete control of how my image is portrayed to the public. However, by removing my self-portraits from social media context to the gallery wall of the art world, I add permanence. Furthermore, my selfies draw on memory to construct identity, in that they record events, people, and places that are special to me. I am constantly taking self-portraits with my smart phone, alone or with my husband and my son, to instantly share on social media and remain connected with family and friends in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.  The painted portraits intend to capture the interaction between my life here in Massachusetts and my bond to Puerto Rico, my birthplace.
The act of exploring the meaning and location of borders, boundaries, and zones of transitions is what theorist Homi Bhaba names as “In-betweeness” (Robertson, p178). My series #Inbetween2worlds aims to document the now easy transition between two places and how I have overcome displacement. Reaching for a deeper understanding of self directly correlates to the construction of my identity. As I pose for the selfie with my grandmother, I intend to take with me a memento and share it on Facebook. As I paint our self-portrait, I further celebrate, process, and savor that moment.  In my selfie portrait with my son we playfully pose in our winter attire, celebrating a sunny cold day to share with family back in Puerto Rico. In another selfie, I pose with my parka or with the exotic flower of the “Flamboyan” or Royal Poinciana tree. It may not be as obvious for my viewer to determine where I am, either here or there, but my desire is to allow the viewer to contemplate on who I am, what I value, and how I identify. Every portrait in this series evaluates, reevaluates, examines, and reexamines my personal experience.
Robertson, Jean & Craig McDaniel. Themes of Contemporary Art Visual Art after 1980. Oxford University Press. Pages 50&51, 80, 178 . 2010.

Monday, September 29, 2014

20 of my pieces will be on exhibition at 

Westfield University

Emilee’s Art Dream:  In Her Honor, an Exhibition for MS Awareness
Works by Emilee Dawn Gagnon, faculty, and artists affected by MS
October 24 – December 10
Reception:  November 6, 5:30-8 p.m.
Arno Maris Gallery

Sunday, September 21, 2014

#WhatLatinosLookLike Art Project

For my Art enthusiast. Do you want to be a part of my Thesis Art project? Send me your Selfie. 

Project completed

I recognize that the selfie trend is not just about narcissism or need for validation; I also see it as a platform for addressing important issues. Social media provides a forum for anyone to create awareness and express dislikes on any issues. For instance, I came across the hashtag, #WhatLatinosLookLike, which was provoked by the theory that Hispanics are identifying as white in larger numbers as part of a process of racial assimilation resembling that of Italian or Irish descendants: a theory that both the New York Times and Slate addressed in June 2014 (Benedetti, Huff Post).  These articles may aim to point at the possibility of an evolving self-identity or benefit associated with being identified with a specific group.  #WhatLatinosLookLike prompts the viewer to reflect on self-identity while making visible that Latinos are diverse in skin color. In order to engage in this issue, I interacted with strangers and responded to their selfies on Twitter. I take pride in identifying as Latina; therefore I joined strangers on Twitter to take part in displaying the diversity within Latinos. 

While painting the portraits of fifteen of the participants, some of whom identified as Mexican-Greek, Chicano Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican-Mexican-Polish to Cuban-Ecuadorian, I was able to slow down and think about these individuals in the process of undoing stereotypes and showcasing diversity. I sifted through hundreds of selfies posted on Twitter, and selected ones that I felt displayed diversity, in terms of age, ethnicity, skin tone, profession, or religious preference. As shown above, on the left the subject tagged his images as Argentine, Porteño, with Jewish, Ukrainian and Polish roots; while subject on the right tagged his as AfroRican, having African and Puerto Rican roots. I painted portraits from these appropriated selfies as a means of making connections in our shared identity. My series #WhatLatinosLookLike allowed me to demonstrate diversity within the Latino community and casually attempt to describe the complexity within it. Painting from images that are inherently informal and impermanent, I created an archive: my own record of these images that became more permanent than in digital form on social media networks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


My experience with displacement gave way to the creation of the #Murrieta. In this “selfie conversation” I address the immigration crisis in this country, and more specifically reference the events that took place in California this summer. On July 1, 2014 Murrieta became a flashpoint in the immigration crisis when protestors blocked the road to prevent three buses transporting 140 migrant woman and children from entering the town (Fieldstadt, Instagram and Twitter users posted selfies while observing the people protest and supporting the transfer by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Angered by what was taking place, and feeling empathetic to those women and children whom must have been terrified, I selected images from the protest. Once again, I found selfies that move beyond narcissistic tendencies and showed a political stance to create change. The series #MuerrietaProtest sheds light not only on the event that occurred on July 2014, but also the participation of people who voiced their opinion in a greater sense. In Figure 11 (above), the participants of the self-portraits hold a sign near their faces making visible identifying with its message. Even though we cannot read the sign, it is evident that they are participating and taking action in a protest. These images have more contextual clues about the issues of identity and activism than the series #Iamhere or #WhatLatinosLookLike.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

We are all born into this world with a history. What I do with my history and my present find ways to address my experience in it.  By examining deeper I realized that painting as a child and being “skilled” at it gave me praise and validation. Being relocated at a young age from Puerto Rico to Florida evoked a new sense of self-exploration and need to find connections. My new language, loved by all, became the tactility of paint and the possibilities of color that produced an image of both physical and emotional experiences. There is an importance to sustain the tactile response to the human body as we move further into the age of new technologies.  Trying to figure out who we are and what we are about is a distinctly human pursuit for almost everyone, whether you are trying to find greater consciousness or simply fitting in.  Even while living in the digital age I choose to communicate through portraiture; combining current trends and old traditions in art. 

As I noticed my own participation of self representation on social media, I looked at the selfie trend and the way people have become engaged in exploiting their experiences and modify identity.  The “selfie,” is a self-portrait taken via android phone and instantly shared in social media. Turning to twitter I search for fellow Latinos and followed conversations around similarly lived experiences felt by Latinos.  My concerns, my experiences, likes and dislikes are also lived by others. I quickly learned that social media was more than just keeping in touch with friends, it is a platform to give voices and make connections.  Although it may be accessible to the masses, I wondered of its permanence.  In my opinion we need to slow down in order to be more empathetic to each other.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


A current popular trend is the "selfie," a self-portrait taken by the viewer of themselves with their cell phone and quickly shared on social media. A painted portrait, like the selfie, wants to be noticed because a part of us wants to be valued, appreciated, and included in the groups that matter to us.

For the past 6 months I have been collecting selfies from friends, families, and strangers on Facebook and twitter. In contrast to the instant satisfaction of taking multiple photos and uploading them, I approach the painted selfie portrait in order to slow down the gaze. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

The new look for my #selfie art project framed in iPhone cases and glass tops.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Art Aesthetics of a Selfie

What I am is what I am. No ambiguity. 
below: Selfie painted by Nayda A. Cuevas

Can this be what the selfie trend presents?
The selfie is a quick self portrait created with a smart phone camera and immediately distributed into social media. It becomes an instant communication of what I am doing where I am, who I think I am and who is watching.

As an artist the selfie trend contains aspect I am interested in.  Artists have used themselves as subjects to be displayed and create self portraits for many reasons; Like…
  1. we are all always there on time and can sit for long periods of time
  2. we also like to show off our skills in painting
  3. we need to reveal something inner to the outside world in the most vivid way we know how
 portrait below: Alice Neel
 below: Chuck Close self portrait

Once the painted portrait is complete we make it public. Similarly to the selfie, a painted portraits primary purpose is to be seen now, by other people, and most of them strangers.  Selfies are seen in social networks and so is art, but art is also viewed in art galleries and Museums.  The difference in theses space/environments is its prestige. There is a perceived notion of power and beauty that exudes from portraiture because they are understood to serve a special purpose and will become public

Can I as an artist, take your approved selfie uploaded onto social network seen by all and give it additional light and prestige by painting your portrait and bringing it into an art context?

I paint people because I am drawn to features, body language, and forms of expression. A selfie is carefully articulated vision of who we choose to be on any given day and moment. It is the ultimate representation of the way we want the world to see us now.  
The definition and purpose of art is constantly transforming. Merging old traditions in art and modern trend keeps art contemporary.

What can your selfie aspire to be?

Notes taken from: New York Magazine, Feb 3, 2014 and 10/17/2013

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Just read Richard Brilliant, Portraiture. Reading these different views shed a light into the human psyche and in popular culture. As I move forward with my portraits I have many things to consider. Most importantly “subject”. Being clear that a selfies is not considered a work of art and that it is a current popular trend, I would like to address its insignificance and impermanence by painting them.  I will address the initial judgment of the portrait by painting them as realistically as I can and thus creating a recognizable portrait painting.  The issue of how the sitter is portrayed as been initially addressed because the subject has selected how they wish to represent themselves. What is left for me is time to remove myself from this fast paced world of images and create a lasting permanent image in history.  I in turn make the selfie a work of art to be admired and remove it from the vast hole of images in the web. I become free in my self indulgent and necessary act to paint and remove myself from the world to create a portrait with the intention to signal an individual’s presence in life.  I believe we all want to be noticed, because a part of us wants to be approved by our peers, family and or society, otherwise the selfie would not be a trend. I do think we, as a person or artist, need a viewer to exist.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

After painting sooo small for a couple of weeks I was itching to paint another large portrait. I kept it simple raw white canvas. It was really freeing and I find my 2 year old model amazingly beautiful!

Friday, February 28, 2014

As a child, making arts and crafts was a way to pass the time and make something.  When my family moved to Florida I found myself in a new environment and immediately learned that I was different. I was alien to the majority of the people around me. Within a year I was blessed with my art teacher, Mrs. Houdeshell.  She introduced me to all art mediums and I quickly learned that creating art produced attention. I gained acceptance, admiration, and praise for my creative class assignments and artwork.  In my preteen head I concluded that with paint, brushes, clay, images, and bright colors I could inform and tell others of the place I was from.  As a consequence I would no longer feel alienation. I thought, “people just don’t know where I am from! I will paint it, sculpted it, and I will dance it”.  At the same time I replenished the empty space inside, longing for family members, festive holidays and parties, swimming in the warm ocean, speaking and being understood.  My new language, loved by all, became the tactility of the paint and the possibilities of color that produced an image of both physical and emotion experiences.  Sense, art has become a way to continue to revisit moments, experiences, and celebrations of the world I am situated in.
I need to remove myself from the world to situate myself in it.  It is like praying in church, going to a Holy place, a quiet space to release and recharge the soul.  My experience as a human being from a small festive warm island and my need to share its warmth comes out through the brush.

Monday, February 17, 2014

How do you celebrate your Hispanidad (being Latina/o) on a daily basis?Janice as a Latina identifies herself first as a Mother.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I always begin my morning with Puertorrican Cofee Cafe Crema. It takes me back to my childhood comute to school and passing the Cafe Crema factory in Caguas Puerto Rico. The aroma of cafe Crema in the air... yum tum! Also the memory of my grandmother giving me my first taste of it with  A LOT of milk. I have been drinking it sense the age of  7, even after we moved to Florida my grandfather would send it to us from PR.



How do people choose to represent themselves? Are portraits important?
How do you celebrate your Hispanidad (being Latina/o) on a daily basis?

The Selfie portraits may give way to discuss how we construct or deconstruct our identities sense I am asking the portrayed to initially portray themselves to me via a “selfie.” Portraits primary goal is to signal and individual’s presence and by using the history of portrait painting I can introduce viewers to my process.

My process is self indulgent, a necessary act, to remove myself from the world as I become free in my Latina American experience.