Elmi Ventura Mata

Cleveland Institute of Art

When creating, I think about the past and where I come from. My instructor Christian Wulffen once stated, “We cannot escape where we come from.” When I create my paint paintings, I too pull ideas and information from my personal narrative as an immigrant. Born in the countryside of El Salvador, I immigrated to the United States in the early 2000s

In my most recent body of work, I explore the environment around me: the city. Cities are harbors that provide anchorage for people from all walks of life. These map points host large, populations of diverse individuals that have their own stories of personal struggle to tell. Although I am perhaps more sympathetic toward the struggles of my people, I am willing to listen to the struggles of others. At a deep level, I understand that struggles can be physical, mental and/or emotional, in which we as humans all share.

As a visual person, I often look at other markers that signify people’s race and class. In the United States, the African-American experience has been one of grief and pain. One’s skin color was, and to some degree still is, a stigma that defines one’s identity. Through figurative painting I strive to capture the unique characteristics of each individual person. I try to achieve this through these subjects’ facial expressions, clothing and positioning staged in a made up world. One of my intentions is to give the viewer the understanding that all the people in the painting breathe the same air.

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