Michelle Vintimilla

Artist Statement

As an artist, I make art that voices the concerns of the oppressed in addition to telling a personal story about self acceptance in society. Throughout the summer and the beginning of this school year, I made art that focused upon self-identity and the acceptance of my culture. It was during this time that I began making art based upon my culture. I felt lucky to be surrounded by people who supported and influenced me to embrace who I was and the community I was a part of.  However, growing up I was in a constant mental state of struggle and denial.

I initially began developing this thesis idea by taking photographs of those who impacted me growing up. From that point, I decided to create artwork that not only displays an appreciation to those mentors, but shows my personal struggles with accepting my cultural identity. I wanted to show a separation from my country. These personal difficulties also consisted of a desire to conceal my ethnicity, which I portrayed in my art by depicting clowns and masked figures.  

In my painting, I portray myself as a clown and then bring that idea to life in “Puppeteer.” I made these two pieces when I realized that I have always used humor as a defense mechanism in addition to always seeing myself as someone’s temporary entertainment. I have always felt that I have to behave a certain way and follow a set of unwritten rules in order to be accepted in the society I live in.

Furthermore, I want to speak up against stereotypes given to people of my culture, such as all of us being immigrant or criminals. Unfortunately, these stereotypes have become opinions held by people around the world and even supported by important political figures. I want to provide the viewer with the perspective of someone who is a minority in America. I want people to be able to relate to my artwork in some way, whether it is through personal experience or witnessing someone else experience go through similar difficulties. I also want my viewers to be empowered to freely speak up against what they believe is unfair and without fear of being shut down or ignored.