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Rafael Melendez
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant



ARTIST STATEMENT: I am a lifelong visual artist and have primarily worked in drawing and painting with forays into collage and the art zine. Figures that are often multi-limbed and feminine, alien and human emerge in much of my work. I draw and paint the language of New York’s artworld, its queer culture makers, everyday gossip and strife in an effort to combine my chosen craft and rigorous studio practice, with my humor and worldview. While I am proudly Latino, born in California’s Central Valley and raised in Texas, my work focuses not on my ethnic or cultural history but instead on the critical and sensual eye I have developed in the past fifteen years spent as a New Yorker. For many years, I did not show work or pursue a traditional art career even as my East Village living room served as both my studio and storage. I was intent on making art, seeing as much art as I could and living as an artist on my own terms. I did not seek funding or residencies, instead I worked a grueling if lucrative job as a high-end bartender, paying for art supplies and books myself. A health and financial crisis and a whirlwind romance-now-marriage resulted in my refocusing on bringing my work into the world. To sum up my artistic statement and worldview, I would have to state this about my art:
It's not traditional.
It's not commercial.
It's informed by my rich experience.
I'm fully committed to it.
I have been all my life.
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