Print performance art

Alejandro Arauz shares his creative process

The first in a lecture series arranged by the Queen’s Fine Arts department featured an intriguing look at the creative processes of print and media artist Alejandro Arauz.

Hailing from Brantford, Ont., Arauz received his Master’s of Fine Arts degree from Louisiana State University in 2008.

Since then, Arauz has worked actively as a practicing artist and as an assistant professor at Nipissing University and an adjunct professor at OCAD in Toronto.

Touching mostly on themes of identity through his exploration of Latin American diaspora in Canada, Arauz has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally in Cuba and at a print conference in Tennessee.

“I initially began working both in mixed media painting and printmaking to create visual representations of bi-cultural identities,” Arauz said.

Using symbolism as a key component in his artwork, Arauz attempts to draw parallels between the process behind the production of printmaking and the experiences of the Latin American community in North America. Family is clearly an important theme to Arauz.

“I realized that by working in portraiture and presenting the works as a unit I touched on the relationship between the individual and the family unit,” he said.

“I would rely on printouts from family images to produce my images before the Xerox transfers.”

One of the most thought-provoking parts of the lecture was a video that mixed performance-artwork with printmaking.

Exploring the imagery behind symbolic permanent-marker drawn “tattoos” on his chest, Arauz begins to smear the marker off his skin gradually throughout the film with his hands and also by rubbing himself on a white wall, leaving traces of ink behind.

The tattoo images range from birds, to writing, to images of people.

“At this point in time I felt the work was representing ideas but I was eager to try something new, so I began extracting and transplanting the image to unconventional mediums,” he said.

This provided an interesting look at how the human body can be used as a vessel for printmaking art and the deconstruction of identity all at once.

“I wanted to touch on the construction and dismantling of symbols of identity,” Arauz said.

“Our bodies hold physical and psychosomatic matrices which we transfer onto various impressionable traits around us.”

Arauz compares the process exhibited in the video to the process of human experiences being translated into the mind.

The only difference, he said, between printmaking and the human memory is that only one can be stamped with ink.

The rest of the lecture consisted of Arauz further showcasing his black and white prints, and a question and answer period afterwards for students to inquire about his work.

Currently, Arauz is developing a travelling print project called Migratory Arts Press.

“Looking at my production, I see that I initially began producing works from a personal production, and as of late I’ve moved to more universal experiences,” he said.

“As I see it, my starting point needed to be personal before transitioning to more collective perspectives.”

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