Q. How has growing up Uptown influenced your artwork?
A. My work has primarily been based on my experience growing up Uptown from my youth into adulthood. The people in the environment I was raised in and how they perceived my identity as an American of Dominican descent is what helped shape the scope of Torn Asunder. I felt the need to respond to a community that was lacking in self-awareness. From an artistic standpoint I also wanted to present fine art that is not commonly presented, meaning when you think of art in my community you think of Graffiti. I knew early on I was not a Graff kid, I was in search of something else.
Q. At what point in your life did you know that you were an artist?
A. I studied art from a very young age but it wasn’t until I entered high school that I felt very strongly about my ability as an artist. I was constantly practicing the various lessons I was taught. I really enjoyed the process of making art and striving to get better at either drawing and painting a portrait or a figure as well as abstract painting and photography to name a few. I was all about experimenting.
Q. Please tell us about the main themes in your upcoming Torn Asunder exhibit?
A. The main theme is self-discovery and understanding the truth about your history. Being born in New York and my family being from the Dominican Republic was an interesting situation because my household was a very traditional Dominican household and yet at the same time very American. For example my brother and I only spoke Spanish to my parents and spoke only English to each other. We listened to all kinds of music other than Spanish music (Soul, R&B, Hip Hop) and watched a lot of American television as well as some Spanish television stations. As I grew older my identity was being questioned either directly or indirectly, and I became confused. I did not know how to respond. So I took an interest in my history. When I would visit DR I would have a new outlook on the environment, it resonated in a different way each time.
Q. How would you describe yourself as an artist?
A. I make visually arresting, realistic paintings with various mediums and surfaces. I am a political artist who searches for truth within myself as well as the larger culture around me.
Q. Is there anything else you would like our audience to know about you or your work?
A. I believe the purpose of my work is to be a voice to my community and others like it. I feel a responsibility to succeed as an artist and set a standard for other young up-and-coming artists. We live in a time where art in our community continues to be viewed as unnecessary when in fact in it can be used as a tool to aid youth that feel they do not have a voice and or direction in life.
Check out Dionis Ortiz’s art exhibit taking place at the Heath Gallery (24 West 120th Street) and has its opening reception on Friday, March 9th.
About Me: http://about.me/dionisortiz