Julia Ryan Portrait 1.jpg

📸  Photo Credit: Julia Ryan

Eilen Itzel Mena is an Afro-Dominican American artist, writer and community organizer originally from the South Bronx. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2017, with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. Her visual arts practice synthesizes Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and African Diaspora spiritual frameworks through interdisciplinary work. In her social practice, she serves as a Co-Director and creative collaborator for Honey and Smoke, a global artist community and platform focused on creating space for artists to meditate on the important themes of our time through themed seasons. H&S explores these themes through creative inquiry, education, interactive experiences and digital content. She is also a Principal Member of Zeal. Zeal is a Black artist cooperative, creative agency and studio that creates infrastructure for Black artists to thrive.

 

She has exhibited work in New York, San Francisco, Miami and London and has been covered by various publications such as the New York Times, Vogue, Cultured Magazine, and Hyperallergic, amongst others. In 2018, she participated in the LSI Artist Residency in London, UK organized by the UCL Slade School of Fine Arts and the Camden Arts Center. In 2020, she was an artist in residence for Zeal’s Art Studio Incubator Program in Inglewood, CA. Through Zeal, she curated the exhibition 'Who Owns Black Art?: Questions on Cultural Ownership' in Miami during Art Basel 2019.

Her multifaceted creative practice helps her connect African Diaspora, spirituality, culture, identity, and purpose. Her painting work explores the relationship between childhood and adulthood in order to bring forth healing and activation of purpose. Highlighting adult concepts with a childlike aesthetic, allows her to access joy while reimagining and challenging representations of trauma and emotional space. Her compositions reflect dreams, emotions and spiritual experiences. Exploring the dream realm in her compositions, in particular, allows for the re-envisioning of reality and expansion of what is possible in our social and environmental interactions.

 

The color combinations she uses in her work are inspired by different African indigenous cultures. Her visual language manifests through a lexicon of repeating shapes, figures, inversions and forms such as rainbows, swords, flowers, and smiley faces. They all serve their own meaning and purpose in this language. Through semi figurative and abstract imagery, she visualizes real and imaginative spaces. By mixing in remnants of the figure within abstracted colorful environments, she conveys a space in which the body and the spirit can find alignment and reconnection.  

In the Fall of 2022 Eilen Itzel Mena will begin an MFA in Painting candidacy at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in London, UK.