About the Artist

I was born and raised in Miami, Florida where my parents immigrated after leaving Cuba.  Having lived in various cities across the country and abroad, I am currently based back in my hometown where I live with my husband and our two children.

I graduated with a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington.  Painting has always been a constant in my life, although I have had a variety of jobs in the arts from a Photo Stylist, Account Manager and Art Director to Window/Store Display Coordinator for Anthropologie, as well as High School teacher.

The work featured on this blog depicts the span of my career as a painter. This work, with the exception of the plein air landscape paintings, is an embodiment and a collection of memories.  From the onset, in my earliest figurative paintings done as an undergraduate, my work took on a definite narrative and expressed a particular moodiness, which set the tone for years to come.  As a graduate, I became fascinated with the concept of time as it relates to the viewer and how I might engage a viewer such so that he is unaware of the passage of time and of his surroundings.  I came to see mood as an integral and constant aspect universally understood by each of us regardless of our varied experiences. As such, I continued to use mood as a vehicle in my narrative in the attempt to capture a wider range of people and suspend them as a viewer.

Throughout the years, I’ve continued to explore mood but as it reveals itself in the context of nostalgia.  When I moved back to Miami, having lived away for over a decade,  I found the nostalgia I was always referring to in my work to be one generation removed from the nostalgia of the Cuba my parents and that community left behind; a sort of mirage really, upon which the community in which I was raised was built.  As a Cuban-American, I have been brought up with a blend of American values and Cuban tradition, trapped somewhere between two worlds – adhering to American values while trying to preserve that which has been past down from our parents – the tradition, the longing.  As a result, there is, at times, a feeling of being from two worlds, never really fitting into one or the other.  Though my work has evolved throughout the years, the figures in my work still refer to this feeling of isolation and displacement, which is perhaps often felt by first generation immigrants.

The new body of work in particular, has taken on more references of my own childhood; specifically, that aspect of which was spent immersed in the nature of the Florida Keys.  The images, plants, and animals I use are snippets of flashbacks I have and make reference to the local nature and habitat of South Florida and the way it drifts into our consciousness and becomes a part of us.  The raw linen contributes to the feeling of organic nature I try to capture.  On the other hand, the sewing and appliqué I add, is my method of improvising the chin-collé technique in printmaking while referring to the more traditional old-world craft with which I became acquainted as a child in a Latin household.

“Recorriendo Recuerdos” is the title of this series, it literally means “Running around the Memories”.  Though, in this work, I refer to my own feelings as a first generation immigrant while using imagery that was unique to my childhood; I, simultaneously and in a greater sense, try to capture that pause which occasionally occurs in all our lives.  That pause is a silence, it is just a moment, it is an inhale, it is a thought in the distance, a quality of light, a remembrance of things past. This body of work refers to the silence and tranquility within us all when in communion with oneself, with one’s own thoughts and memories, with nature. It is about isolation and displacement, solitude and peace.

3 thoughts on “About the Artist

  1. hello Helen! en contemplant la fresque que tu as peinte au dessus de la cheminée de Monflanquin il ya une quinzaine d’années!!! j’ai tapé ton nom sur google!!! ton travail a beaucoup évolué!!! si un jour tu y penses passe à paris ou à Monflanquin!!! fais moi signe!
    caroline chauveau 11 rue de miromesnil paris 8ème

    • Caroline,
      I had been thinking of you when your comment popped up. How nice to hear from you. I will never forget the time in Monflanquin, it was lovely!! I hope you are all well. I will certainly be in touch when I am there again – perhaps next summer… Likewise, if you are in the States, please do not hesitate to email me before coming out here! I still keep in touch with Benoit, you can always ask him for my information.
      Bises, Helen

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