Growing up in Miami, I spent just about every weekend at my Abuela's house. I loved hanging around her sewing room, surrounded by the floral prints and motifs of her favorite textiles as well as the cardboard sheets used to create patterns for the dresses and clothes she made. The colors, shapes and textures were so exciting to me as a child. My Abuela had been a pattern maker for Lanvin in the 1950's and moved to New York City for a year; just long enough to earn some money to bring her family from Cuba back to the United States.
I wasn't able to attend college and study art until I was almost 30 years old. Prior to that I was basically a self-taught artist. I dropped out of high school and I painted on the streets, you could say that my early education was found in the derelict buildings and abandoned warehouses that dotted seldom used train tracks across Miami. These spaces provided almost unlimited areas to create and although I wasn't in the classroom, those experiences carved my existence as an artist into being. Daydreaming and using my imagination became an integral part of my working process.
Now as a Visual Arts Teacher in the New York City public school system with an advanced degree in Special Education, I inform my students of these important techniques needed to find their inner artist. When I see young scholars abandoned works or work in a series, I nurture and encourage this as part of their practice. I work with middle and high school students in East New York. Some of these underserved youth have never had an art class during their elementary school years and have not had the opportunity to visit an art gallery, museum or organization. Learning the value, power and importance of their own voice opens new doors for these young students and encourages them to never be content following the status quo.