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Mexican Independence Day 2014: Andrea Arroyo, an Award-Winning Artist Celebrated by President Clinton, Latin Grammys Reflects on Latest Exhibition

First Posted: Sep 16, 2014 03:10 PM EDT
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Bomb-detecting dog given final salute before being laid to rest
Award-Winning Artist Andrea Arroyo

Photo : Latin Post/Melissa Castellanos

From graceful movements, images etched in her mind to vibrant colors and flowing shapes painted on canvas, award-winning, Mexican-born artist Andrea Arroyo has had an impressive career expressing her creativity through the arts.

Her fluidity as a dancer is evident in her artwork, which she has seamlessly transitioned into her designs. Arroyo's images flow with an emphasis on "women-focused artworks that honor the resilience of the female spirit." You can see these powerful themes in her latest exhibition, "Hereafter," which is featured at The Grady Alexis Gallery at El Taller Latino Americano in New York City.

On Friday, Sept. 12, during the exhibition's opening reception, Arroyo shared her thoughts on her latest installment, her inspirations and political standpoint, as well as her pride for Mexican Independence Day, which is today, Tuesday, Sept. 16.  

"The spirit of the work is very celebratory, but the pieces are also formed by feminist concepts. By that I mean just the very simple concept of believing in equality. It's nothing radical, it's just very, very simple ...  equality for men and women and opportunities and rights, in terms of the social, financial and political," Arroyo told Latin Post.

"I celebrate the women's bodies, women's forms, also women's achievements and women's struggles. I connect women from the past, from history and from mythology to women in the present, contemporary women -- including working women, immigrant women who come here to search for a better life," she said. "I make that parallel between the women that we meet today and the women from the past. I always say you never know if you're going to meet the next Cleopatra, the next Rosa Parks, or the next Frida Kahlo riding the subway. You never know. There's a lot of potential and I try to make that connection."

According to Arroyo, who was born in Mexico City but is a longtime New York City resident, "Hereafter" features a series of intimately sized works from the artist's series "Fragments," inspired by details of frescos discovered in archaeological sites, as well as by the art and dance of South East Asia.

Additional paintings include medium-sized works from her acclaimed series "Flor de Vida," inspired by mythological characters from world cultures.

Arroyo points out that the series focuses on sacred women and is inspired by women from Eastern mythology, but it's also inspired by sacred architecture from around the world. 

"You can see the shapes pyramids, temples and cathedrals or Hindu temples," she said. "It's that connection of what is universal, universal values and the specifics of women."

In Arroyo's paintings you can also see that the images of the women blend into the beautiful natural scenery with hair flowing into the sun and into the moon.

Arroyo's work has been exhibited, published and collected extensively, and has also become part of permanent collections at The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, The National Museum of Mexican Art and The New York Public Library, as well as many private collections in the U.S., Mexico, Europe and Japan.

The talented artist was selected by former President Bill Clinton as a Global Citizen Award Artist; additional honors include 21 Leaders for the 21st Century; Groundbreaking Latina in the Arts; Official Artist of the Latin Grammys; Outstanding Latina of the Year; Woman of the Week, Women in the World Foundation; and the New York City Council Citation Award for Achievement in Art.

Arroyo is also known for her ongoing project, "Flor de Tierra," which is notable for being both political and moving -- it's a tribute to the memory of "the nearly 400 women of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico that have been murdered since the early '90s and whose deaths have not been brought to justice."

The powerful project has been exhibited at different stages and has received support from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, The Puffin Foundation and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

While her work is celebrated around the world, Arroyo never forgets her roots, especially with Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16.

"A celebration of my home country is always very sweet. I have been living in the States for many, many years, so I celebrate both countries and both cultures," she said. "I have the privilege of being able to take the best from both. I love my country and I am especially proud of the pre-Columbian times of the Mayans, the Incas and the Aztecs. I also adore New York as well."

How does Arroyo feel about the state of Mexico today?

"I am an artist, so I am very humble about that. My personal opinion is to always try to strive with equality, to makes links and bridges from people in different classes and ethnics groups. Because in Mexico, we're still dealing with a lot of class issues and race issues, but many countries in the world are dealing with the same thing. In terms of the feminist struggle and just fighting for equality and appreciating all that we have achieved, but also thinking about what we need to achieve in the future."

Arroyo's commissions include projects for El Museo del Barrio, The International Museum of Women, The New York Women Foundation, and The Clinton Global Initiative. Her public art can be seen in the Gun Hill Road subway station (MTA,) The Washington Irving School and IS206.

Arroyo's" Hereafter" exhibition will be on view through Oct. 4.

For more information and to view Arroyo's impressive body of work, visit andreaarroyo.com

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