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Art & Life with Walter John Rodriguez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Walter John Rodriguez.

Walter John, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in Havana, Cuba in 1981 but have spent most of my life in New Jersey. I have family in Miami and other parts of the U.S. Drawing and painting have been a passion from a very early age motivating me to graduate with a B.F.A. degree from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2002. That is when I became professionally active in the arts. My work has been included in many private collections in addition to multiple group exhibits in Florida, California, New York and New Jersey.

As a young boy, I dreamed of participating in art exhibits and visiting the world’s greatest museums. Fortunately, today I can say I have done both. I believe in the power of intention that can lead anyone on a certain path to any imagined goal. Art is more than a goal for me; it is a life-affirming priority that manifests through the way I act and how I give life to new ideas.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Everything I make is born out of a particular fascination with absurdity. In fact, I am very interested in exploring questions that expose how individuals continuously try to adapt to the demands of an unfamiliar environment. My figurative images combine a process of expressive brush strokes with the energy to channel personal reflections, a specific state of mind or a fabricated detailed vision. I also thrive to express deeper interpretations of known concepts in permanent tension with the viewer’s thoughts. The intended effect is of a certain distance between what is depicted in my paintings and real-world ideals.

Most recently, I have been working on a series of over 40 paintings called “Power Isn’t Love” in which I intend to reference contemporary American identity through known portraits of our founding fathers. As ubiquitous as their image may be, their legacy remains elusive to most Americans. While their iconic legacy elevates their image to a monumental level, they may also appear far removed from our collective consciousness. The founders are significantly respected for their extraordinary heroism that set them apart, but they were as human, conflicted and vulnerable as my depiction of them intends to reveal in these portraits. The viewer might be able to identify the individuals in each painting despite the fact that their faces are distorted, altered and other times irreverently tarnished. These choices I make to depict their features is meant to project the effects of indifference that we may perhaps feel towards these men. As Americans, we revere their image so much but perhaps we do not know them well enough. We defend and uphold the constitution they drafted. We educate our children about the values of the Declaration of Independence. We quote strictly from their written thoughts, and often proclaim that our founding fathers provided a government structure that carefully guards the gift of democracy. My new series “Power Isn’t Love” aims to identify our democratic roots in order to investigate where we are now as citizens with American democracy.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
An artist can play any role he or she wants. That in itself speaks of the unique position all artists today are in to generate a new opportunity for transcendence beyond ordinary limits. An artist today is doing what artists have always done; which is to project the essence of truth. Artists remind us that honoring the humanity within all of us is how we can potentially eradicate all prejudice. These are interesting times when artists have an increased responsibility to visualize what others cannot see more critically than ever before.

On a personal level, the thoughts living inside my head come from the world I live in, and my work is a conversation with that world. I sometimes feel safe in it and sometimes I do not, but it is not really about seeking safety for me. I think safety is a work of fiction. The experiences and events that affect people around the world leave me with questions that are hard to answer and my job is to acknowledge that those events do not just happen inside my TV. I have to respond at the level I can. My art is my way of responding and keeping the conversation going.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can find my work on Instagram @walterjohnrodriguez where I have a link to my website

Once there, anyone can see my latest work.

I am an advocate for any career support to living artists who remain active. I personally welcome many forms of career development from financial support to gallery representation, to art residencies as long as it all allows me to continue expanding my career. I also believe in building a network of active professionals who seek to elevate the standards in the art world and who bring support to artists in all communities. Therefore, I am happy to collaborate with any gallery that is interested in displaying my art as well as doing interesting collaborations with other artists who complement my artistic vision.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
ESKFF (Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation)

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