Although my name sounds typical to New England, the reality is quite different: I’m a queer, Puerto Rican male raised in Maine. This sense of difference carried from my youth has grounded my practice in the ability for art to educate and empower the individual through creative inquisition. Through my practice, I rework anxious adolescent discomfort into exotic empowerment, turning cultural signifiers that relate to my heritage into sculptural tableaus that spark wonder. In a tense political arena marked by binary terms such as black and white, or rural and urban, the visibility of all minorities, especially those that fall in between these linguistic poles, becomes a highly charged political gesture. As I’ve embraced my own diversity, I’ve realized that it is through celebrating experiences of otherness, that creative intervention can act as a catalyst for change. My practice has developed through my relationship with artifacts, ritual and myth, using making as a means to decode my personal version of reality. I view all culture is raw material: the object, pop culture icons, historical motifs and fabricated goods - all active translators of a specific story or emotion. Recent projects have seen me gravitate to sacred objects such as reliquaries and offerings, combining references to consecrated artifacts and Santeria altars with more typical New England signifiers such as LL Bean, hockey pads and lacrosse motifs. As I’ve used sculpture as figurative storytelling, I’ve begun to explore music, prose and performance in tandem with these objects as a means to bring the audience even closer to my particular experience. The self-investigative arc of my MFA studies has greatly enriched my practice, leading me to realize it is crucial to define a sense of self-empowerment, not as politically oppositional, but as mutually celebratory - we’re all in this together.