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Meet Ricardo Cisneros

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ricardo Cisneros.

Ricardo, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in South L.A. in the 80’s and 90’s. The middle child of a family of eight, my parents both immigrated to the U.S., from Mexico, at a young age. Growing up, we had few resources for food or clothing. My father was absent most of my life. He worked two jobs in Beverly Hills for 23 years until an injury and diabetes rendered him handicapped. My mother, while always nurturing, maintained the household. She worked odd jobs to supplement our family income. I learned how to hustle and survive from both of them. Living in a ghetto during this time was not easy. Our neighborhood teemed of gang culture and violence. I always knew I did not want to die on the streets, so I chose to nurture educational opportunities and my artistic tendencies.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Once my father became disabled, we started to build our relationship. I started to learn of his journey and struggle early on in his life. The life and death scenarios of him immigrating to America became tribal lessons of perseverance. Early on in my family, my parents made a pact. Each in their own role, would work to provide us with the best life possible. Growing up, we struggled to get by regularly with limited access to food and clothing. I remember the shame I felt while waiting in line at the city park to collect government sponsored lunch and groceries. One of the jobs my mother picked up involved selling donuts door to door; Kids at school would poke fun. One of my strongest coping strategies was being able to draw well. I remember staying up late, listening to KROQ on the radio and re-creating my comic book covers. Having a city library card gave me access to a visual reservoir of past master artists. As I wandered through the library aisles, I discovered a rich history of artists. Hieronymus Bosch was a favorite, his paintings were mind-blowing and rich with narrative composition. Art became my escape as it allowed me to transcend the gang violence around me. It was the vehicle to distant dreams that I could pilot at any moment and transfer onto a drawing/painting media.

Please tell us more about your art.
Choosing to create art is not a financially stable path for most of us. I have spent most of my life working odd jobs to supplement my art-making endeavors. During this time, I have worked in the education system, printing industry, museum/curatorial, and office environment. Over the years, I have taken an introspective journey to develop my own visual language. Having been born in the 1980’s, I gathered inspiration from popular culture and marketing. In reference to the society of the spectacle and the writings of Guy Debord, I have come to view societal dynamics as a spectacle. In the spectacle, Debord facilitates different conditions to disrupt the controlling mechanism of the corporate agenda. I utilize color theory and social narratives in a surrealist representation of behavioral norms within society. The counter-culture messaging in my work starts to question the design behind commercial conditioning. My work starts from a platform of social injustice and class warfare, from this point of entry, I create a narrative that amplifies the social aberration using alluring color relationships within dynamic compositional stage.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Oddly enough, I credit oppression to any current or future success. I have been rejected from many opportunities in my life. Rejection has manifested in: financial stability, educational opportunity, personal health and in the artworld. When you learn to push through a resistant force, you access a greater vantage point of character and personal strength; whether you move forward an inch or a mile, you will discover a plane of opportunity that would have been missed otherwise. Let’s be honest, I do not look like the traditional artist. I do not come from wealth or privilege, I do not have an ivy league education, I do not follow a formulaic approach to art production. What I am is a minority within a minority. I have stated what I’m not, more importantly is to state what I am: a brown-skinned, 6’0 , financially unstable, pissed off, Mexican-American artist… I have the conviction to create in spite of my challenges. This is my driving force.

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