Artist Rocio On How Being Fearlessly Yourself Is Inherently Black
Rocio is a Dominican-American visual artist based in the Bronx. Often using fantastical visual representations of herself, Rocio depicts the fullness of Black female identity. Through the use of bold colors, rainbows and bolded texts, Rocio channels her emotions through the visual medium production. She uses large stars to honor the younger child she was. Her work is often depicting her in many raw and visceral emotions, she hopes that her honesty and vulnerability in her life’s journey will inspire others to reflect and accept themselves.
Galore: How do you identify? What does an Afro-Latinx identity mean to you? How do you embody it?
Rocio: I’m a Black person. More specifically, I’m a Dominican woman of African descent. Being authentic in the way I chose to dress myself, create my art, and speak my truth is how I embody my Blackness. Being fearlessly yourself is inherently Black.
Galore: How do identity politics and intersectionality intersect with your artistic practice?
Rocio: I don’t sit down and plan what is going to come out of my body and mind and in a lot of ways that has made me feel shitty about myself as an artist. I think about the way that white institutions engage with art and the process of how they attach validation to certain pieces. My art comes very natural place and really flows out of me. Because it is organic and honest, it automatically intersects with my identity politics even if that wasn’t the initial goal going into it. I sometimes feel like I have a hard time explaining the internal processes that drove a piece, but I am coming to terms with the fact that that is okay. That all art is political.
Galore: What are some of the motifs that you have included in your most recent work?
Rocio: I used to think my work was focused on anxiety and depression. But this year I’m realizing the overall theme in my work is self- acceptance. It’s about being okay with the parts of yourself, even the ones you consider embarrassing .
Rocio: All delusions, all weaknesses, desires etc…. It’s about being as honest as possible and saying shit with YOUR CHEST. No matter how raw the truth, I present it in a fantastical, colorful, magical world. Stars and rainbows insect with the tears and matter of fact statements written across the pieces in big black letters. I’m able to honor baby Rocio this way, and accept her in ways I hadn’t as a young girl.
Galore: How has the resurgence of protesting for Black Lives Matter influenced your work?
Rocio: I have felt very guilty about not being on the frontlines during all of this. I’ve come to terms with us all having different roles in this revolution. Mine being to continue to amplify Black voices and movements on my platform, spread information, and provide monetary relief to those brave enough to be on the frontlines. I was able to raise over three-thousand dollars for protestor relief funds through a print sale for a piece specifically made for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rocio: But besides that, this time has inspired me to remain authentic, because of the importance-especially as a Black person -to be able to do just that. I don’t want to have put my art in a box. It has been and will always be an extension of my own experience. Even now, in the midst of all this sadness and chaos, I’ve found myself making some of the happiest pieces I have in a while.
Rocio: This movement has helped me prioritize, and appreciate Black joy. And fully accept art that is the product of my joy. There is pressure on Black artists to express the sentiments of the times- but in the same way that magnifying the pain and suffering that Black people have endured under this racist system for hundreds of years., I am here to also magnifying Black joy, Black healing, and self acceptance because these experiences are just as important to our the narrative.
Galore: What does art curation mean to you? Are you aiming to represent your community, or are you aiming to hold a mirror to your community?
Rocio: While I am the product of my community, environment, and identities, my art is a space for me to understand myself, first and foremost. My art is my mirror. In holding a mirror to myself and using my platform to document my self reflection, I hope inspire others to do the same.. We’re all out here! Laughing and suffering! Being cry babies! Falling in love! Sending stupid text messages! We all need reminders, and reassurance.
Galore: You often depict women of color (which I have interpreted to be you) in your visual representations. In what ways do your different art mediums serve to evoke different sentiments or purposes?
Rocio: I turn to paint to heal and cope. This is an intentional experience I reserve for myself. . My jewelry, although less obviously personal, serves me the same way. Its very much so tied with feelings of nostalgia, things that spark memories of my childhood.
Hearts and rhinestones, mushrooms and raindrops. Its loud and in your face. Its extra, and glitters in the sunshine. Its for the person i fantasized of being able to be as a little girl. I hope my art in all mediums helps people be more gentle and loving with themselves. We can all be a little better at that.
To connect with Rocio on social media, you can follow her on Instagram
To support Rocio’s business, you can buy her jewelry and hand made prints on her website.
A CALL TO ACTION:
This post is a call to action to all my Black and Afro-Latinx artists, please keep creating. We are the generation that will set the foundation for this century’s evolution of Black consciousness and expression. The revolution is now, and we must all be engines of the cultural revolution so that we represent our essence and not the stereotypes of the racist patriarchy. This is not a light task. Be careful with yourselves. Self preservation is the greatest form of resistance. I am now accepting Black and Afro/Latinx diasporic works. I am also accepting work from any one who holds different identity backgrounds, and is in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Submissions (works and an artist statement of purpose) can be emailed to Shirley Reynozo at firstname.lastname@example.org.