SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2014

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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schoolartsonline.com 37 Sharon Warwick: How would you describe the evolution of your work? Diego Romero : My work began as nar- ratives specific to the stories of the Indian people, their real lives, and the church, but it has evolved to the more universal narrative about the nature of mankind. SW: What are your central themes, narratives, and symbols? DR : My characters, the "Chongo Brothers," are a mixture of a lot of Native individuals, but beyond that they're disenfranchised. They're dis- joined. They're an aboriginal people in a twentieth-century consumer society. The work narrates the pitfalls and dualities of that dichotomy through stories of urban Indian life. Since then my work has evolved into industrial landscapes, cartoon character bottles, Gold Trophy pieces, and Pop Art icons after the style of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. It has become a hybrid of comic-book superheroes and Indian traditions and contemporary design today. SW: How does your work reflect both your knowledge of art history and your personal history? DR : My work started out as autobio- graphical, incorporating old narra- tives and stories from friends and family and tradition. After I went to art school, I approached art history like a salad bar from which to pick and choose and mix imagery and motifs. I fuse Greek pottery and Mimbres ceramic traditions with Pop Art iconography and comic-book style. My narrative is that of the super hero and heroine in a contemporary mythology. SW: What are your clay techniques and processes? DR : At the Institute of American Indian Arts, I learned to work with clay in the Hopi tradition from a woman who was like a grandmother to me. We ground the clay from the earth, used native paints to color the ware, and fired the work outside in a pit. I like clay because it has an infi- nite shelf life. I like to think that my pots will be around after the explod- ing and contracting of the universe in a big bang. In art school at Otis, I decided to be a contemporary potter and tossed out the old dogma and tradition. I still do my own chemistry of mixing clay and slips and I use the traditional coil method with stone polish, but I am free to fire in electric kilns and use gold lusters in a no-holds-barred attitude. SW: How would you like young people to understand your artwork? DR : I like to say that I am a chronolo- gist on the absurdity of human nature in life. It gives me great pleasure to watch people crack up laughing in the gal- lery when they are looking at my art- work. If we lose the ability to laugh, then we lose the ability to heal. Sharon Warwick is an art teacher at Win- free Academy Charter Schools in Texas. W E B L I N K www.youtube.com/ watch?v=7vWPWoKmqYY www.robertnicholsgallery.com/Rob- ert_ Nichols_Gallery/Artists/Pages/ DIEGO_ ROMERO_1.html#grid My narrative is that of the super hero and heroine in a contemporary mythology. Left: Paris and Helen; Right: Manscape IV. Courtesy Robert Nichols Gallery.

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