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← Raúl de Nieves is an American Artist | Art21 "New York Close Up"

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Showing Revision 1 created 04/28/2017 by Amara Bot.

  1. [New York Close Up]
  2. Being in the Whitney Biennial
    is really interesting right now
  3. because of my background as a
    Latino queer artist.
  4. [Ridgewood, Queens]
  5. Essentially, I'm showing in
    "the museum of American art"
  6. and I'm from Mexican descent,
  7. but, you know, what does that mean today?
  8. And what that'll mean for tomorrow...
  9. I don't know.
  10. [Raúl de Nieves is an American Artist]
  11. I'm listening to a lot of techno right now.
  12. It's so that I can keep the momentum.
  13. I never try to be a perfectionist
    with my work.
  14. I've always wanted to make stained glass,
  15. and I feel like it's a little heavy, you know?
  16. So this makes it lighter
  17. and I can do it anywhere I want.
  18. Sometimes my friends come over
    and we, like, chill out.
  19. [LAUGHS]
  20. And they'll watch me cut
    a bunch of paper together.
  21. [LAUGHS]
  22. I grew in Morelia, Michoacán.
  23. Growing up in Mexico was really magical
  24. because I got to see a lot of forms of celebration.
  25. I got to experience death
    as a really young child.
  26. That's what my work is about:
  27. it's like seeing the facets
    of happiness and sadness
  28. all in one place.
  29. Color was such an embedded part of my life
  30. that I always saw things
    as bright as they could be.
  31. The most interesting part about this
    to me is
  32. you can make something
    out of the simplest things
  33. and it can translate into a different reality.
  34. Not knowing how it's going to turn out
  35. is extremely exciting.
  36. Because I'm just anticipating...
  37. Um...
  38. the day I get to put this up
  39. and see what it does.
  40. --Holy shit!
  41. [SCREAMS]
  42. --Hi guys.
  43. --[ALL] Hi!
  44. --How's it going?
  45. Oh my god, this is so crazy!
  46. [BREATHES OUT]
  47. It really hits the wall!
  48. Oh my god,
  49. this is so cool.
  50. [ALL LAUGH]
  51. This is so cool!
  52. [DE NIEVES SCREAMS]
  53. --Okay, should we start moving these things...
  54. --[MIA LOCKS] Yeah.
  55. --[DE NIEVES] Okay, cool!
  56. --So, I'm picturing the orange one...
  57. My mom had already been
    living in the United States
  58. for about two months.
  59. One day, my aunt came to pick us up from school,
  60. and she said, "You're going to America.
    Let's go."
  61. And we got on a plane without a bag.
  62. --This woman is supposed to go right here.
  63. --She's kind of like going, like...
  64. --Yeah, like this.
  65. --[LOCKS] What would you like
    the posture to be?
  66. --[DE NIEVES] Well, I mean, I wish it was
    a little bit more animated,
  67. --because that looks so real with these, like,
    hands in the air.
  68. --But, I figured even if it could
    just be like...
  69. That day that I got into a plane,
  70. knowing that I didn't have any belongings,
  71. a lot of things went through my head.
  72. I was obviously scared,
  73. because I was nine years old
    and couldn't speak English.
  74. [Mia Locks, Curator]
  75. But I knew that I would be able to survive.
  76. And that I just have to trust
  77. what ever life was going to bring me next.
  78. --But,
  79. --can a viewer come right here?
  80. --Is that illegal?
  81. --I mean...
  82. Creating this narrative,
  83. with all these figures and symbols--
  84. just taking what I've learned from experiences
  85. and being able to put it in one image--
  86. is really important for me right now.
  87. The first panel in the stained-glass mural
  88. is of a person in sickness.
  89. He is challenging his mentality
  90. to turn from bad to good--
  91. or is asking for help.
  92. And then it trickles down to
  93. a personal fight.
  94. Defeat is really important.
  95. It should be somewhat of a struggle to continue.
  96. I think the fly is actually the core of life.
  97. It's constantly watching--
  98. you know, it's like a secret.
  99. At the end, I want it to be
    a celebration of life.
  100. --[INTERVIEWER, OFF SCREEN] You're 33?
  101. [DE NIEVES] I'm 33!
  102. Yeah.
  103. My dad died when he was 33.
  104. My dad died when I was two years old,
  105. but I feel like he's closer to me now than...
  106. ever.
  107. I mean, I don't know,
  108. but his remembrance allows me to
  109. keep going.
  110. It feels more of a gift.
  111. To me, it symbolizes my dad's spirit.
  112. My grandfather.
  113. My grandmother.
  114. My own personal spirit.
  115. It's a celebration of my mom's courage
  116. to bring me to this country.
  117. She had to do it for her and three other kids.
  118. I always believed that the United States
  119. was the land of all nations,
  120. and I guess I'm starting to realize
  121. that's not completely true.
  122. The mural talks about this experience--
  123. this journey.
  124. I feel really happy that I could put
    so much emphasis
  125. on this idea of "a better tomorrow"
    in my artwork.
  126. The fact that there are so many
    diverse groups in this exhibition
  127. is really important.
  128. And hopefully it reminds people that
  129. this is 2017.
  130. We don't want to go back in time--
  131. we want to move forward.