In his first solo exhibition in the U.S., Mexican-born, Minnesota-based artist Roco presents “Incivilizado.” Inspired by the art of the Huichol tribes with their intense, bright colors, Rodrigo Onate Alvarado used that inspiration and his personal experiences to create a body of work that expresses his concerns for humanity’s disregard for nature. In an interview with EXTRA, Alvarado talks about his experiences living with an indigenous community and his hope to connect different cultures through art.
How did your interest in art come to life?
Since I was a kid, I was always in touch with art. I’ve always loved comics and all the pop art from the 80s. I grew up in that culture. I also had family in the U.S, especially in Chicago. I grew up with both cultures—Mexican and American. That’s where my interest in art was born. In Mexico, it’s a little difficult to evolve as an artist. People always tell you that you can’t make it as an artist, so there was a time when I cut ties with the art world. Then three years ago, I decided to take it up again because I realized that it was something that I had to do, something that I liked. So I said, ‘I have to do this again.’ So it’s been three years that I’ve been doing this non-stop.
You said it was something you felt you had to do. What was it that motivated you to dedicate yourself to art full-time?
Well, when I took myself away from the art world, I started working in communications working as a journalist. I got really involved in politics but I found that I was angry all the time because I felt there was too much hypocrisy behind it so I said ‘I need to do something where I can really express myself and leave all this anger that I have inside of me behind.’ That was the moment I decided to leave that behind and go live somewhere else with a friend who is also an artist. He was the one who inspired me to realize that what I was doing at that moment was not what I wanted to do.
Explain the theme of your exhibition “Incivilizado.”
I really like political themes and I realized that there are all these people that we don’t really see. We’re in our own worlds consumed by work, city life, and money in order to survive. I got to know these indigenous communities and I got to know a little bit about the way their tribes live. I was living in a cabin in the forest, practically isolated. There are people who live in those conditions, where they don’t even have running water; they have to take showers with buckets of cold water in the mornings. So it all seemed really interesting to me as I got to know these people and their traditions. Society sees them as people who have no education and lack certain things, but what they do have is a strong connection with nature. They know how to use the resources they do have but at the same time, they can’t use them because we’re taking those resources away by destroying a lot of it. So I try to capture these things and people through my art.
The exhibition runs Feb. 13 through March 10 at Pilsen Outpost, located at 1958 W. 21st St.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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