Eilen Itzel Mena is an Afro-Dominican American artist, writer and community organizer from the South Bronx based in Los Angeles. 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 Diasporia 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. It is a conceptual project that explores these themes through new media and interactive 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, Cultured Magazine, Deem Journal 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 reimagine and challenge representations of trauma and emotional space. Her compositions reflect dreams, emotions and spiritual experiences. 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. 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.
In the fall of 2021, Eilen Itzel Mena will begin an MFA candidacy program in Painting at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in London, UK.