“Like myself, my work is beat up and worn in,” says self-taught artist, Carlos Rivas. Born in El Paso, Texas in 1978, Rivas has been attracted to artistic beauty since childhood. “I come from an artistic family,” he says, “both of my siblings are artists, too.” While Rivas has always had a natural aptitude for art, he is a relative new-comer to the art scene. He began his professional art career in 2007. His most current solo exhibition is on display at Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix, Arizona (2011). Rivas’ primary media consists of colored pencil, acrylic paint, and pen ink. Sketchpad paper is his canvas of choice. Because his work is typically large, he prefers to use plywood in lieu of traditional canvas as a supportive backing. He feels that plywood offers more durability and helps to accomplish the distressed “beat up” effect that is a signature element in his work.
“Grid Work” is one stylistic recurrence in Rivas’ collection. He does his “Grid Work” pieces by attaching numerous 9″x9″ pieces of paper with a construction adhesive to larger 8′x6′ pieces of plywood. Then, each 9″x9″ piece of paper acts as a component of a larger grid. The smaller pieces of paper act like pieces of a puzzle; the final image is one continuous, greater picture. In his “Grid Work” pieces, the “beat up” factor is note-worthy. The colored pencil is faded, and the paper is visibly wrinkled in places. He has no problems with touching his finished work, as he believes that the worn look can only enhance the overall appearance.
A sub-collection of Rivas’ overall collection features a more abstract style in contrast to his more traditional pieces. He calls this sub-collection “Shape Shifters.” “I let my mind wonder as I draw,” he says. This segment of his collection involves random lines and non-traditional shapes. The media used for “Shape Shifters” varies. Some are done in colored pencil on sketchpad paper, whereas others are done on plywood with acrylic paint.A number of his pieces may be perceived as religious tributes (i.e. Mari, Lord Ganesh), but Rivas insists that his subject matter is not deliberately religious. “A lot of my inspiration comes from dreams,” says Rivas, “I dreamt the Cyclops Virgin Mary one night.” While he does not associate religion with his identity as an artist, he does accredit God for all of his inspiration.
Rivas currently lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona.