It's a term I created which I started to explore when the opportunity arose for me to share my art at The Lilley Museum (University of Nevada Reno). Through our collaboration, I created an artistic intervention aimed at The Lilley's permanent collection display. This gave me the chance to use my voice and use this platform to speak on important social issues that matter to me. You can read the full talk I gave which explains what NuWave Mayan is and gives insight on the piece created for the intervention with the Lilley's Untitled Keith Haring piece in their permanent collection. You can read the full talk I gave below;
Thank you all for being here, I’d like to thank the University of Nevada Reno and Vivian Zavatarro the director of The Lilley Museum for inviting me to collaborate on this artistic intervention. I’d also like to thank everyone who has supported my artistic expressions throughout the years, thank you for your continued support, it only fuels my passion to create.
I’d like to dedicate this talk to my father who is a huge inspiration for my work, for all my creations are a tribute not only to him but to my ancestors, and to Creator.
WHO AM I?
I was born and raised in Reno, NV. My parents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in the early 80s to escape the Salvadoran Civil War to give my sisters a better life. I often wonder if my parents hadn't immigrated to the US, would I even exist. I don’t know that I’d be here sharing my art with you today had they not. So, I’m grateful to them for having the courage to come to the United States and leave their life behind to make a better life for us.
I’ve always loved to create and draw since I can remember. I’ve even seen a picture of my sister and my mother where you can faintly see the drawing marks I made all over the wall in the background. I have simply always felt this need to create and only now is my vision as a creator clearer.
For me, art is not just about personal expression, but it’s also a form of activism. Keith Haring has been a big inspiration to me for that reason. Through his lines he creates a visual language that speaks on or shouts about a number of social justice issues; gay rights, racial discrimination, the crack epidemic, and the fight against HIV and AIDS which ultimately was the illness that took his life.
As I started to learn more and more about Keith Haring as an artist and as a human, I came across some pictures of his work from a posthumous exhibition which had been curated by the Guggenheim in New York City.
They titled it Keith Haring: New Wave Aztec because his work is very much inspired by Pre-Columbian, Aztec, and Ancient cultures.
I thought to myself, I also connect to ancient cultures, I’m Salvadoran and I’m apart of the new wave of my generation. I want to start a movement to connect my ancestry to the current. I want to keep their memory alive so that they’re not forgotten. So that I too am not forgotten. But I also realized that I through my creative voice I could create and invent my own visual language using my imagination to conceive characters and symbols that are not only connected to my ancestry and heritage, but also touch on the social themes of today and the past. I want to share my art in order to help unite communities and by expanding the cultural diversity of our town into spaces and venues like this one which historically tend to be filled with an overwhelming representation of white culture and artists alone, and that should not be the case. Art is for everyone, no matter what color you are or how poor or rich you may be.
And that is NUWAVE MAYAN.
This door has an interesting story. I had this urge to create and so I decided to hit the local graffiti shop for spray paint. I bought some paint and usually the folks who work there let me paint on their free wall. I asked if I could paint on the wall and this particular time I was told, “No.”, this was a bit frustrating because I needed to release this inspiration of creativity within me. I went outside and that’s when I saw this door, and so I knocked on the house where the door was laying thinking that if it was their trash they wouldn’t mind letting me have it. But no one was home. I went back into the shop and asked them about the abandoned door. This time they told me not to take the door at first but another tattoo artist from the shop told me that it had been there for a week and to just take it. I convinced my friend Josue to help me pick up the door and bring it to its new home.
I titled the door: Las riquezas de la vida no tienen precio which translates to “the riches of life are priceless” in English.
This door had been discarded and was seen as trash, but I saw the value in what could be created with it. Regardless of my initial limitations with this need to create, I was able to discover an alternative opportunity to release my self expression. It reminded me of the fact that throughout my whole life I’ve had limitations rather because of the color of my skin or socioeconomic status. And in spite of these limitations I’ve been able to create my own opportunities and that includes being able to speak with you all today.
So now I would like to share a little bit more with you about the symbolism that I utilize in my work. I use both the equal and not equal sign to show that there’s still an illusion of equality out there for some of us. As a person of color, I still have barriers I have to break in order to reach the same opportunities that come easier to others. The MAB signature - Is my father initials. It is a symbol I created to keep him alive, paying tribute to him and my ancestors.
In this particular piece there is also a dollar sign on the figure’s forehead - touching on the title of the piece the riches of life are priceless. I was able to create something with meaning, priceless to me from something that was discarded. But this also connects to my culture, for the Mayans before they were colonized they did not rely on what we view as important today, money, materialism to have value in their life. They were connected to the earth, to the creator. They had community and cared for each other. These things are priceless compared to our society today where we value money and possessions above all else.
The crosses in the eyes and at the bottom of the piece are part of the characters body-
They represent my connection to religion and taking that symbol back and using it in my own way. This for me symbolizes the breaking free from those chains put on me and on my ancestors since colonialism to today.
INSPIRATION - IGNITING CREATIVITY IN EVERYONE
Art builds community, and we’re all capable of creating in so many different mediums. I want to inspire and ignite creativity within you all here today. Art is not just meant to be in venues like these it’s for everyone to engage in.
When viewing art, you’re engaging in dialogue and discussing what you see or feel from it. That in itself is creating a universal connection. I’d like to invite you to explore your own form of expression.
When I create that’s when I feel the most liberated and I hope to spark that feeling of liberation, joy, and creative fire within you all.
So let's all create together in the form of dance, connecting through music and our bodies. So please join me in creating in movement and lets dance the rest of the night away, because the riches of life are priceless. Thank you all for coming!