Martin Cortes

Martin Cortes

Miguel Rivera

Miguel Rivera joined the KCAI faculty in fall 2008 to serve as chair of the printmaking department. A practicing artist as well as an experienced educator, Rivera has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Argentina, Mexico, Japan and the United States.

He earned a B.F.A. degree in printmaking and painting in 1995 from Southern Oregon University in Ashland.Rivera also has given visiting artist lectures in Mexico, Peru, Argentina and the United States, including Southern Graphics Council conferences. Lately he has visited Project ACE in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Guanlan Print Studio in Guanlan China and the 2013 Printmaking biennial in Lima, Peru; these visits were under their respective artists in residency and visiting artists programs. His work was featured at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO. He is represented by the Weinberger Fine Art gallery in Kansas City.

In my work, images are manipulated, layered, and placed in combination with rendered drawings and prints in an environment that conveys a sacred space. The materials that are used serve as metaphors for the passage of time, memory and the human condition. The layering of the surface functions as a contemporary chaotic interpretation. Placing images in this manner helps to reconstruct, examine, and reinvent memories of my infant experience. At the same time, layering of these personal icons creates a double edge or ambiguity of related themes, ie., the beauty of pathos in suffering. This ambiguity relates to the experience of traveling, living in several environments, displacement while collecting a visual memory along this path. My core referential images have evolved into a series of abstractions from ephemeral experiences witnessing the pathos in Mexican culture. These works provide a platform for several inner experiences. Although these images are visually flat, they seek to engage the viewer in an installation setting by invading one´s space. Iconographic images of lethal viruses have become a base for some of my abstractions for the past two years; I have used the simple form of series and repetition of these viruses to represent their multiplicity and prevalent presence. The danger that viruses, such as Evian flu, H1N1, Bubonic Plague and Malaria represent, are in contrast with their microscopic yet fetishistic appearance. The integration of a viral pattern became the main driver after witnessing the massive death of birds in Arkansas this past year 2010.  A fading image of a Peruvian pigeon was a metaphor for our collective damage to the environment. At the same time, a burned drawing using a laser on paper made a symbolic and significant statement of this act.

Artist Statement for GEO/MATRIX exhibition

Inertia I by Miguel Rivera, 2019 mixed media on paper, 40x28 inches

Inertia I by Miguel Rivera, 2019
mixed media on paper, 40x28 inches

My current work is a result of a search for new forms and complex paths embedded in the theory of metaphysics or abstraction from a baseless reality. I am reinventing structures and routes that stem from one’s daily life such as maps, the magic of belief in forces of physics, and architectural forms from baroque church facades. Layers of signifiers appear and disappear as if I am seeing dormant memories. 

This work is the result of my current time and place where I am coming to terms with my ideological art discourse by being an artist of Mexican origin not dealing with identity political art. Forms and colors come first to tell my version of my cultural education of being an outsider and slowly adapting to my adopted environment. Drawing follows hidden structures as landmarks of experiences that come back or fade away, leaving the graphic nature of contour drawing.  

This body of work titled Geo/Matrix has evolved into layers. It is a progression of manipulated photos, hand drawn images, painted or printed shapes, and vector drawings that become edited by the destructive nature of laser energy. This act of self-editing these images results in a by-product that resembles one of questioning my own values. Thus creating a re-birth of the original graphic medium. Margot Lovejoy used the term Information as Simulation to describe Jean-Francois Lyotard’s ideas to dissolve the basic nature of the object into other states of energy. These works aim to be a time capsule of that action. Furthermore, abstractions are simplified from photo memories in Venice, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Guanajuato and the US and from vintage maps from the colonial era.

 Facades and maps from these locations have become the foundation or background graphic images, later to be modified with the integration of viral bacterial imagery and colonial map route patterns as added layers. Lastly, a burned drawing using a laser on paper or a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) drawing makes a symbolic and significant statement of this erasing and editing of my images.