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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Local artist Adam Rodriguez lets his light shine through


    The most vibrant people sometimes dress in the darkest of shades. Dressed in dusky jeans, a worn black vest, dark Southwestern boots and an oversized leather jacket, Adam Rodriguez is a local artist whose work evokes both wonderment and deep introspection. Rodriguez may wear all black, but his art is a colorful manifestation of his soul on canvas.

    Rodriguez’s art is an outlet for his creativity, fueled by the need to translate his emotions, sentiments, losses and experiences into truthful reflection. His life is his art and his art is his life.
    “I use my art kind of like a diary, but it’s a painting, a collage, clothing montages,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just my projection of what’s happening in my life.”

    Rodriguez will graduate from the Southwest University of Visual Arts with a degree in advertising marketing this May. He has already established a large creative body of work, quite a feat considering that just a few years ago was on track for a completely different career.

    Rodriguez, a first-generation college student, started out trying to do something secure and expected; he was going to nursing school. Life would have been relatively easy, but fate intervened with an act of whimsy.

    “One day I went into my roommate’s room and there was this box with all this paint in it,” Rodriguez said, “so I stole it all and just started painting. That’s when I first fell in love with art, and I haven’t really stopped since then.”

    His path diverted, Rodriguez emerged as an artist — but he paid a price. He dropped out of nursing school. His heat was shut off, then his electricity.

    “I’ve been struggling with being a struggling artist,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really difficult; all your money is invested in your art, your time, everything.”

    But Rodriguez has not been deterred. He embraces his economic hardship as the impetus to expand the boundaries of his creativity. He uses whatever materials he has close at hand, like skateboard grip tape, pillowcases and old clothing, to create explosively colorful, textured collages of portraits and captured moments.

    His art is reminiscent of Matisse, with the absurdity of Picasso, but Rodriguez makes it decidedly his own by deriving his inspiration from his own life.

    “I think that’s true soul,” he said. “That’s honest, and that’s real. I live it, so I want to illustrate it.”
    Rodriguez reworks his life on canvas by painting, reshaping and piecing together materials that have sentimental value to him, so that his art shows his memories in composite.

    Rodriguez and his art are one and the same: avant garde and unpredictable.

    Rodriguez said he plans to move to New York immediately following graduation. He wants to experience more, expand his art and become immersed in the artistic Mecca of the East Coast.
    But his artistic roots are in Tucson. No matter what happens in New York, he will remember where he started as a struggling young artist.

    “It was a barrio house … a big adobe house with these high ceilings, and I just started throwing art shows there,” Rodriguez said. “That’s when I sold my first painting … I paid my light bill.”

    Through art that carries the whimsy and playfulness of his ambition, Rodriguez has established himself as an artist with soul. No matter what criticism, failures, rejection or heartbreak he may face in the future, Rodriguez said that as long as he has hands to work, he will continue to create.
    “If I don’t make art, I feel lost,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t feel human. It’s part of me.”

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