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Yéssica Montero is a multidisciplinary artist from Dominican Republic. Informed by memories, literature and nature, Montero’s practice is largely autobiographical. Caribeart has the great pleasure of introducing the blooming artist for our latest interview series, exploring phobias, women’s bodies, poetry and the self.

“Cabezas quemadas” (Burnt Heads)
Charcoal on paper
“Nacimiento” (Birth)
Charcoal on paper

C – Your creative process is often guided by literature, tell us more about the literature that inspires you… What kind of work are you producing for the ‘Festival of Untold Stories’ ?

Y – I like poetry and narrative fiction. There are four women writers I admire: Sylvia Plath, Clarice Lispector, Rosario Castellanos and Alejandra Pizarnik. For the Untold Story Festival I made a drawing. Although they were not directly lived experiences for me, I think it was not difficult to empathize with the content of the text and to understand that there is an unresolved historical trauma of which I am a part. The history of slavery and colonial systems are still alive, mutated into other forms and other systems that cause serious problems of disparity and social injustice. But I did not want to make a piece with a passive sadness or from the position of a victim about that past-present, but I wanted to tell the untold story by recovering the power of the anti-canonical narrative.

“Jaula del tiempo”
Charcoal and ink on linen.

The history of slavery and colonial systems are still alive, mutated into other forms and other systems that cause serious problems of disparity and social injustice.

This is not home
We hear nothing but screams and despair.
Broken in two is the walk
and the immense cruelty
there is always another
What he breathes is what you choke on
what he eats is your hunger

C – Often using dark colour scales, charcoal and deep browns, your work has a nocturnal essence to it, the figures seem isolated and alone. Could you elaborate on your relationship with emptiness and memory ?

Y – My greatest memories and dreams as a child are night time experiences. I liked to see the living room illuminated by a candle or the garden of the house illuminated with little light. Observing these domestic landscapes provoked in different moments of my life, enjoyment or terror.

My artwork arises from these contrasts and is an opportunity to revisit and heal emotions, and to recover the agency and autonomy that a macho society tries to prevent women from having. My work is a strategy I use to challenge myself.

C – A recurring depiction is the female body interlaced with animals and nature, what draws you to surreal forms ? Who are these figures and what do they represent?

I am interested in the stereotypes of femininity that predominate in Dominican culture, but not to replicate them; rather, I want to openly question them. The images I create in my works are not meant to simply evoke idyllic fantasies. Sometimes they are monstrous scenes, of grave and somber suspense that may frighten those who do not yet recognize the strength of accepting their emotions or experiencing freedom.

C – You are based in the Dominican Republic. How does Caribbean culture influence your artwork ?

I am often inspired by flora and fauna, rituals and myths. I am interested in the untold part of the stories, the Caribbean when it is not dancing happily in a tropical paradise. My art is fueled by curiosity for things that remain hidden.

Fragment of ‘Bird Woman’ by @paolajroman 🖤
‘Over time, you were discovering,
That this was not a mouth,
But a hard beak,
They were not silky legs,
But long skinny legs,
What I was hiding, T
hey were not wings’ .

«The fireflies have been used, inside a fig tree by the Taínos or inside glass bottles by the country man, as a source of light to walk among the mountains at dusk. Also, in the popular Dominican tradition, they have been related to the souls of the deceased who wander through purgatory and who, at night, come to accompany their relatives. Starting from these two elements, this collection of poetry has been conceived and named, which wants to be a space to rediscover indispensable texts of the Dominican poetic tradition that, without a doubt, enlighten us and accompany us on the path of reading and writing » .

The cover of the first three titles is by Yessica Montero, who is also the author of the collection logo.

Follow Yéssica Montero on social media >

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