Bienvenido, today I will be talking about what has inspired me as an artist and where I will interview other artists, art students, and people involved in the art world in the coming months. I am always touched and empowered by the stories of artists and powerful people in the art world and I wanted to use this opportunity to get to know what inspires others. For this first installment, I’d like to give credit to a few of the artists that have really impacted and inspired me. I started my interviews with my dearest friend and fellow Boricua, Ponce Solo.
Please Meet Ponce Solo:
La del vejigante
First and foremost, I respect the privacy of my friends as many of them may prefer to be anonymize. Let me introduce him to you my friends. Ponce Solo, was born in Michigan and reborn in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He is a Montana-based artist that focuses his talents and his endeavors for the grater good of helping our people in the on going recovery in Puerto Rico, as well as our brothers and sisters in other countries around the world.
What I love about Ponce Solo’s artwork is that it is wearable art, I like how he smoothed the edges of objects within his work and how subtly he shifted the tonality of light. After exploring more of his work, it’s refreshing to see how unafraid he is to leave paintings with texture and how he leaned towards abstraction in repeating creations. His colors are bright and so is his mind, as he’s amazing with abstract expressionism.
“I’m learning just how relaxing painting can be. And finally taking some time to paint one for myself, I started with respect to my roots. And the balance of nature.” – Ponce Solo
In his own words,“I recognize my artistic talent is a gift that I did nothing to receive, so I use it to help others whenever I can. I also, believe art to be one of the purest forms of non verbal self expression. I have so much to say and feel it’s better seen than heard.”
“I may begin a painting with an idea of the direction I want it to take but I have found that painting is more of a dialogue between the artist and the work. It is best to listen to what a painting has to say rather than force upon it my preconceived notions of what it should look like.”- Ponce Solo
(Picture Above: The Guey Taino with the resistance flag in the background)
“The great thing about these projects is that I’m also learning as I go. So much about our ancestors and culture that I never knew. Every time I research for a project I’m always filled with wonder.”- Ponce Solo
A Quick Back Story On A Few Of Ponce Solo’s Pieces:
This hat for me is a truly inspirational piece. I have family in the BX in NY, a lot of our people live in Nuevo York. To me this represents our Nuyoricans. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term a Nuyorican is a portmanteau of the terms “New York” and “Puerto Rican” and refers to the members or culture of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around New York City, or of their descendants.
“This was undoubtedly one of my most challenging pieces, but in the end I am very happy with it and I don’t mind saying happy with myself as well. I took inspiration from a picture I found on the Internet, as well as from the artist @sketzii who’s miniature paintings are truly amazing. So this is my interpretation of the Brooklyn Bridge and NY skyline. I did something different and added the Taino sun on the cap, as I didn’t want to mess with the scenery. And I added La Garra del Diablo on the button to show roots. From PR to NY, roots and culture. La bandera I painted into the word RICAN because why the hell not??? It goes perfectly there.”- Ponce Solo
Using the reference pic he found, he started with the Cemi. Heres a little background… The Cemi stone, with its three cardinal points, is a fundamental symbol in the Taino religion. Many Tainos name the three points “Yocahu Bagua Maorocoti,” which is another word for the Creator, Yaya, as represented by the world’s indigenous peoples at the time of the coming of Guamikinas (the European “covered people”).
1)On top of this sacred mountain peak, in the turey (sky) of the four directions, resides Yaya – the Creator, whose name means that which has neither beginning nor end and which has no male ancestor or creator.
2) Coabey, is the underworld, the place of the dead. Here resides Hupia, the spirit of the dead. The face of Guayaba, the Chief of Coabey, is represented here.
3) The land of the living. Here resides Goiz, the spirit of living people.
He had a lot of fun painting this one, as it is very vibrant and has a feeling of energy and life. Here’s a little background on the Puerto Rican Vejigante… The vejigante is a folkloric figure who’s origins trace back to medieval Spain. The legend goes that the vejigante represented the infidel Moors who were defeated in a battle led by Saint James.
To honor the saint, the people dressed as demons took to the street in an annual procession. Over time, the vejigante became a kind of folkloric demon, but in Puerto Rico, it took on a new dimension with the introduction of African and native Taíno cultural influence. The Africans supplied the drum-heavy music of bomba y plena, while the Taíno contributed native elements to the most important part of the vejigante costume: the mask. As such, the Puerto Rico vejigante is a cultural expression singular to Puerto Rico. The mask of the vejigante is known as the Careta. Made from either papier-mâché or coconut husks (although I’ve also seen plenty of masks made with gourd), it typically sports a fearsome assortment of horns, fangs and beaks, and are often polka-dotted.
Vejigante is an amalgamation of two Spanish words: vejiga, or cow bladder, and gigante, or giant. The name refers to the vejigas that the characters carry with them. The bladder, which is dried, inflated, filled with seeds and painted, is the trusty weapon of the vejigante. During the Ponce Carnival, the largest cultural event in Puerto Rico and an annual stage for the vejigante to strut his stuff, the characters will happily walk among the crowds, chanting, singing, and whacking random passersby with their vejigas. (Don’t worry, this is not a violent or painful experience … at least, it’s not meant to be!) The banter between vejigantes and the crowds is all part of the fun.
Support The Cause:
Ponce Solo holds fundraisers with 100% of the proceeds going to the people. If you are interested in a hand painted hat for a good cause, DM him on Instagram and lets get you one! He’s all about Unifying the tribes, there is strength in numbers. The indigenous people of these lands have to get together and realize that we are all one people separated by imaginary borders and centuries of colonization.
Anyone interested in donating, even if you don’t want a hat, please donate to the link at the bottom of this page. Extend your hand to someone in need. The universe will thank you for it. One love mi gente. Together we rise.
Step Up 4 PR by making a contribution and sharing this campaign with your friends, family, and social media network.
Your donations will be used to purchase:
•MPOWERD Luci Pro Series Outdoor 2.0 Solar Lights with usb/phone chargers 12.50 each Thanks to our charitable partners.
•Sawyer Point One Water Filtration Kits (filter up to 540gallons/day for up to 5yrs) 13.95 each Thanks to our charitable partners.
•Solar Powered Generators $2,500 each. If we purchase 5 solar generators the vendor will donate 5 generators.
•Food (Depends on the size of the community) we go food shopping in PR for the various barrios we visit.
•Hygiene/Wellness/Sanitary products(We’re sending out additional shipping containers to PR filled with supplies)
Gracias for reading this article about my dear friend and fellow Taino, Ponce Solo. Please be sure to check out his Instagram to check out more of his creations and also click the link for more info if you’re interested in donating for a great cause.
Link For Donations:
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