This story originally appeared in our sister publication, Out In SA.
Nationally recognized artist Mitch D’Arte works in a variety of styles
— from lotería graphics to typographic collages, to acrylic paintings which evoke the colorful traditions and art of Mexico.
For her latest exhibit, Christ Like: Restoring Faith and Inspiring Reverence
, which opens on April 6 at Galería E.V.A. in San Antonio, D’Arte has chosen to highlight her “religious footprint” with portraits of the Virgin Mary and other works of religious iconography.
“There is nothing greater than to build a life prayer by prayer. That is what I do with my work,” D’Arte told Out In SA
. “I am not a holy woman. I am merely an instrument used to execute prayer using paint and color. I am far from extraordinary. I am an ordinary person who chooses an extraordinary subject. The subject is concrete: Faith, belief and religion.”
“Although many have painted the the Holy Mother, her presence is minimal, her transformation from an absent presence in scripture to an active presence in sacred art lies in those who paint her. This has become my mission.” D’Arte explains. “I am a witness to the fading of my culture and religion . . . more often than not our faith is the first thing we let go and the last thing we hang on to.”
For D’Arte, creating art has led to her coming out. “The highest sense of liberation is acceptance,” she says. “So I accepted my new role as an openly gay Latina — a personal revolution on a individual scale. Art reveals who we are, it is a trace of something. Art is my conviction. I love the woman I have become. I have struggled, suffered and endured so much to become her.”
D’Arte grew up in Hidalgo, Texas and has taught art and mathematics for the Hidalgo ISD for the past 24 years. She creates art out of two studios, one McAllen and the other in Houston. Her award-winning work has been featured in prestigious art publications and websites. Despite her success, she says she paints “out of inspiration and desperation.”
”Growing up poor has given me a fondness and connection to all things humble which provoke emotions, anything rich in history and culture, things that show evidence of the past and traces of the human spirit,” D’Arte says.
Her connection to the past inspired D’Arte to create a line of wrist cuffs, UNO by Mitch, fashioned from discarded leather belts. She says the profits from this business help sustain her “painting addiction” and her “missionary” work in the villages near San Luis Potosi, Mexico, where she and a group of gay friends who have no kids have distributed over 2500 Christmas gifts to more than 700 needy children.
D’Arte’s artistic philosophy brings her life full circle. “Art should encourage us to think about the forces that shape our lives,” she proclaims. “The power of art allows us to reflect on our beliefs and hopefully make the necessary shifts in our perception to explain them. The power of spirituality, the importance human dignity, and the need for peace are all woven together. That is our narrative, that is humanity.”
“Christ Like: Restoring Faith and Inspiring Reverence,” featuring the artwork of Mitch D’Arte, April 6 to 27, 2018 at Galería E.V.A., 3412 S. Flores. Opening night reception from 5 p.m. to midnight hosted by Rosie Gonzalez and Stacy L. Speedlin with emcee Fonda Cox and featuring Conjunto Taller, the Frank Gomez Band with Clemencia Zapata on percussion, and a special appearance by Flaco Jimenez. Fiesta medal vendors welcome. Opening night guests are asked to bring a Barbie doll or a Hot Wheels Car as a donation for a toy shipment to Mexico. Exhibit is underwritten by the Law Office of Rosie Gonzalez, CWLS, and Dr. Stacy L. Speedlin.
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