All Gas, No Breaks
OCTOBER 9, 1992
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, the ancestral region of my Indigenous Muisca family members that have inhabited the Altiplano Boyacense for thousands of years. Colombia in the 90’s was rocked by decades of internal warfare and an intensifying US war on drugs, quickly becoming the most dangerous place on Earth. This ultimately led to both sides of my family relocating to the US and Canada over the course of two years.
NOVEMBER 24, 1999
Armed with only a Street Sharks action figure and some packs of Pokémon cards, my Brother, dad and I left lush Colombia for the deep Wisconsin winter. We reunited with my mom on Thanksgiving 1999 in Madison, Wisconsin over burgers at Denny’s and proceeded to start a new life in a foreign land. I had already discovered sculpting clay by this age, and I would spend hours creating little worlds where tuxedoed polar bears and dolphins coexisted on tropical islands.
I don’t think I ever fully assimilated to life in Wisconsin. By junior year of high school most of my friends had graduated or transferred schools, leaving me largely on my own. I walked into Mr. Herman’s ceramics studio that first day of fall semester and within 2 weeks I was spending all of my free periods there. For the first time in my school career I found a place where I was comfortable enough to be myself. I ended up completing 8 semesters of ceramics in two years, changing the course of my life forever. Thanks, Geof!
I spent 5 years studying art at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. My art practice slowly transformed from ceramics to glassblowing and finally neon glass bending and blacklight photography. I also started teaching workshops at 19, quickly transitioning from assistant to instructor and lead workshop facilitator. By 20, I was writing my own grants and coordinating weekly workshops for Madison Public Library. I even got to spend my senior year living in Brazil during one of the cultural golden ages in Belo Horizonte. Yes, I still speak Portuguese, and the friends I made there are now family.
OCTOBER 2nd, 2017 – PRESENT
As a Sur Americano, one of the hardest chapters of my life was leaving the life I’d created in Brazil for the remnants I’d left behind in Madison. I couldn’t shake the feeling in my bones that it was time to leave. After lots of visits to friends around the country, I found a new home in Long Beach, California. My first full-time job was pouring coffee at the breakfast restaurant inside the world-famous Queen Mary. My poor co-workers had to put up with me rambling about art workshops and places they’d never heard of for the better part of two years before I finally found my way back to teaching art workshops.
I now run the after school teen programming for artworxLA and teach 3rd graders in San Pedro through Angel’s Gate Cultural Center. I probably know more now about Among US and Fortnite than any sane adult should, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you for letting me share my story.