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Meet Eilen Itzel Mena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eilen Itzel Mena.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I started making art when I was a child living in the Dominican Republic. My mother was an architect and interior designer and my grandmother was a homemaker. They both spend a lot of time and effort making sure our home looked beautiful, put together and unique. Watching them create activated a sense of manifestation within me with regards to my creative consciousness. My ideas were worthy of materialization.

When I was 9, my mother passed away and at that moment my relationship to creation shifted. It now became a comfort zone. It created space for my feelings, emotions and understanding of the world to be suspended in my imaginary. It allowed for me to process things intellectually and artistically that I couldn’t emotionally. Following her death and our move to the South Bronx, I was admitted to the Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Connecticut. There my artistic process became more rigorous and academic. It allowed me to connect the dots between different types of creation, history and culture. At Hotchkiss, I learned about who I was in conversation with, wether consciously or subconsciously.

After Hotchkiss, I studied art at the Roski School of Art and Design at USC in Los Angeles. While away from home again, my artistic practice became my solace. It now created space for my spirituality to be suspended in my imaginary. It allowed me to tap into a deeper part of my psyche in order to not only process emotions but also trauma. Shared trauma and individual trauma. All of that came full circle while studying abroad in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. There I tapped into the ancestral and understood that we are all connected through various dimensions and our artistic contributions are the language in which we speak to each other, those who came before us and those who will come after us.

Currently, my work is focused on highlighting life and its nuances. The human experience, trauma, healing and self-actualization are of focus in my work these days.

Please tell us about your art.
Currently, my work is focused on highlighting life and its nuances. The human experience, trauma, healing and self-actualization are of focus in my work these days. I am currently creating painting, drawing and sculptural works. My work is based on spiritual frameworks the African-Diaspora as well as nature, sex, gender and mental health. I often paint visually stimulating works with expressive mark-making in order to represent the internal and external conflict housed inside the bodies and heads of the characters in her work. My works are spontaneous in nature. I use of bright colors allude to sacred colors in Ifa, a religion and system of divination traditional to the Yoruba people. The vibrancy of my work and her use of cinderblocks to mount paintings allude to my childhood in the Dominican Republic, my mother’s architectural practice as well as the additive structure of my family.

I hope people can take away a sense of curiosity with my work. Although I use very bright colors that draw the viewer into the work, I hope that they aren’t caught up with the aesthetics. I hope that they dive deep into the symbolism and the subjects that I have distorted in the work. They are distorted for a reason. Chaos and beauty both exists in the universe simultaneously. The same can be said for my works. In both there is a lot of knowledge. That can help one understand the happenings on this plane of existence.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
I know it sounds cliche, but WORK WORK WORK. This is a Capricorn speaking by the way lol. But yeah. I say that constant creation leads to personal and professional breakthroughs as an artist. Don’t deprive yourself of outputting creative energy that was gifted to you by the universe. It wants to be channeled through you for a reason.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can see my work in a variety of sources. Either online or in upcoming shows that I will have with Superposition Gallery in Los Angeles. I also recently showed and curated a show titled “Who Owns Black Art?” in Little Haiti, Miami during Art Basel week with Zeal Press and local community organizers. We will be realizing online content and a digital catalog of the show soon so look out for that.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.eilenitzelmena.com
  • Email: eilenitzelmena@gmail.com
  • Instagram: eilen.itzel.mena
  • Twitter: eilen_itzel

Image Credit:
Reva Santo

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