As a Colombian-American ceramic artist and educator with both visual and hearing impairments, I strive to create work that speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit and the necessity of not only empathy, but also empowerment for marginalized groups. Life experience, disability, and heritage are major influences in my works. As my vision slowly deteriorates due to a disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, I use my art to question, examine, and define an evolving identity. The onset of blindness for me in the coming years urges the creation of pieces that touch on the uncertainty we all face, and the hope that even the tiniest bit of kindredness can provide.
6 years ago, I stopped driving due to my vision loss, and I developed a body of work titled “Invisible Words” where I created a collection of ceramic pieces while blindfolded. On the surface of these pieces, I wrote in Braille all the hidden thoughts I had about my changing identity and the isolation of having a disability people could not see. These thoughts ranged from positive optimism to absolute rage and fear. Though the texts were literal translations, their application and design favored aesthetic quality. The work creates moments of connection for audiences through recognizable forms and their function, while in other instances, the work creates disconnect as the Braille is unreadable by most viewers. This back and forth feeling mimics the way I often feel– somewhere between disabled and able-bodied, non-functional and functional. It is intended to resonate with the audience as we all experience purpose, isolation, loss, and community in various stages of life.
Since then, I have completed similar collections adopting the same concept and pulling from my own experience. However, during the pandemic, I became interested in finding a way to reimagine this concept to involve others and tell their stories rather than my own. I began to conceptualize work that includes communal storytelling through ceramic Braille work, and current works in progress incorporate a wide range of voices.