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Raelis Vasquez

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Future and Its Circumstances
oil on canvas


Tell us about the work that you have submitted.

These young children are my family members, all first-generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic. I wanted there to be a multi-layered narrative which would ask the viewer to ultimately confront these children in their state of vulnerability.

How do you describe your work and practice?

Drawing on historical, political and personal narratives, my paintings act as figurative compositions that conjure the complexity of the Afro-Latinx experience. The figures in my work inhabit a state of vulnerability that encourages the viewer to question their positions on class, race and geography.

What motivated you to apply to the XL Catlin Art Prize?

Kevin Demery, a graduate student who is very familiar with my work, suggested that I apply.

What are you interested in?

In the words of George Gerbner: “Representation in the fictional world signifies social existence; absence means symbolic annihilation.” I see representation along these same lines, which indicate that by including a subject it is being given value. The idea of representation is the primary focus of my practice.