Three Philadelphia artists premiered their latest collections recently at Taller Puertorriqueno, the respected arts venue in Fairhill. This trio, connected either through cultural inspiration or choice of artistic expression, presented very different gallery collections.
Artist Natalie Negrón a recent graduate of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, works in Vinylbomb, a mix of media collage installations that feature patterns, textures, prints, and vinyl cutouts. Describing her art Negrón said, “It’s my hobby, my career, my passion. It’s everything to me, it’s my life.”
Negrón is confident that she brings something new to the art world that people usually don’t see that much. Her diverse use of bold colors and graphic patterns create a captivating style of art that is placed directly on the wall. “A lot of it has to do with my Dad,” Negrón said. “He is a graphic designer and owns a print shop. He has vinyl and access to silk screening and print. It really just resonated with me. As I was growing up and I really just took what he laid out for me and made it my own thing.”
Amy Diaz Newman takes a different approach to screen printing, paying homage to the cultural people of the Yucatan in Mexico and the beauty of their works. A high school art teacher, Newman said her “love for teaching feeds my art making.” Drawing inspiration from both her students and the indigenous culture, she sees a direct connection with the people in Philadelphia of Mexican and Guatemalan descent to those ancient cultures. Newman said, “I just want to celebrate that because they don’t get a lot of credit for being art makers and the inheritors of a very sophisticated and artistic culture.”
Painting for the past two decades, Priscilla Anacakuyani Bell is a preschool teacher during the day who moonlights as a painter whenever she has time. Working on her most recent collection since December 2011, her inspiration has ancestral roots, the indigenous peoples of Puerto Rico, the Tainos. “We come together and practice spirituality,” Bell said. “We have ceremonies and learn a lot more about our ancestors and culture.” Bell has always painted people and has been attracted to the human form as a subject.
Influenced by brightly colored murals and graffiti as a young girl growing up in North Philadelphia, Bell recreates those colors in her work. “This is about love,” Bell said of her most recent collection. “Not only about love of painting but, the love of culture, the love for these people, the love for self. It’s all about love.”
Both Bell and Newman use their work to portray the people in their work as a memory of the specific cultural backgrounds that they represent.
The Seeing In/Seeing Out gallery exhibit will be available for viewing through March 31, at Taller Puertorriqueno.