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Announcing our 2020 Scholarship Winner - Stations of Loss by Coralis Rivera - #DearAdultWorld

Editor’s Introduction:

The need for our voices has never been more important. As the injustices fundamental to the American capitalist system are exposed by the pandemic and the recent popular uprisings against police lynchings, it feels as if the world’s chaos is both inescapable and unchangeable. Forever, we’ll be stuck in a pattern of oppression, violence, and ignorance. The over 300 submissions we have received this summer for entry into the 2020 scholarship competition and publication were unique to this time, expressing a host of thoughts, opinions, and feelings about Black Lives Matter, global warming, violence, the pandemic, and the individualized experiences of seeing the world change; of sensing that something is afoot. And whether you get an email from us saying that you have won, that your piece will be published, or we decide not to publish you, all I can express is my sincerest gratitude to your bravery to put to words and images something unique to yourself. It’s a damn scary endeavor to bare your soul to a bunch of your peers, especially when you disagree with our political messages, so to all of you who submitted, thank you, keep learning, keep fighting, keep making, keep dreaming. Together we’re going to come out of this mess with a world that is more equitable and beautiful.

And finally, it is my great honor to announce the winner of the 2020 #DearAdultWorld educational grant scholarship winner, Coralis Rivera’s Stations of Loss. Rivera’s four painting collection tells the story of her Catholic upbringing and juxtaposes iconography with the violence inherent to our country. The paintings are psychedelic, complex, and require multiple viewings. In addition to her paintings, Rivera included a beautifully written artist statement and process images that wowed our staff. When discussing pieces, we think about the mastery of the craft, the work put in, and how the art connects to the theme of “Dear Adult World” and this collection excels in all. We hope that you are as challenged and enthralled with these paintings as we are.

Calvin Ryerse
#DearAdultWorld Editor-in-Chief

Stations of Loss

Coralis Rivera, 17, she/her/hers

  1. “Christ Praying In The Garden”, 2020. Installation, Watercolor on Paper, 7.5 x 7.75 in.
  2. “Christ Meets His Mother”, 2020. Installation, Watercolor on Paper, 7.5 x 7.75 in.
  3. “ Christ Stripped From His Garments” , 2020. Installation, Watercolor on Paper, 7.5 x 7.75 in.
  4. “The Entombment Of Christ”, 2020. Installation, Watercolor on Paper, 7.5 x 7.75 in.

Click on the images to get a full view.

Artist’s Statement:

Coralis Rivera is a Brooklyn based artist exploring themes of identity, belonging, and representation through the lens of a modern-day Roman Catholic ( in her contemporary American society).  Her work delves into investigating her personal experiences with history and education by placing symbolic figures in the place of religious icons residing in sacred scenes. Rivera’s series “Stations of Loss” directly pulls from the Christian practice of remembering the “fourteen stations of the cross”. The fourteen panels traditionally hung around the premise of a church setting are reimagined in the highly saturated four-panel series that references the first, fourth, tenth, and fourteenth stations respectively.

The series was created in an attempt to directly confront the “completely unquestioned”, imagery presented in her Roman Catholic church setting. Growing up surrounded by Christian iconography, Rivera takes a step back in her work to assess icons, their stories, and what they could be manipulated into to cater to contemporary events and/or personal experiences. Her vision for the work included creating a set of pieces that were not obviously the fourteen stations in full. Her pieces reference key moments in the journey of Christ’s crucifixion- the iconic elements of holy characters and sacred props being amplified.

Rivera aimed to initially entice the audience by using eye-catching neon colors in her work. The initial reaction to the work is directly tied to its color, the four pieces being framed by a pink and white border. Upon closer inspection, the audience is able to identify key features that reference the fourteen stations ( Christ in the kneeling position, the crown of thorns, Roman soldiers, Christ’s dead body etc.). In the past, Rivera’s work has included religious figurines, structures, rosaries, etc. This series differs from her past work in that it investigates what it means to be a Christian in modern-day America as a Nuyo-Rican artist. The series questions the norms set in place by the imagery found in almost all Catholic churches around the world. She is critiquing the glorified western renaissance depictions of Christ in art history, the whitewashing of holy icons, and the morals of the modern-day Roman Catholic Church community in “Stations of Loss”.

Rivera’s work was inspired by artists that also investigate religion, art history, and representation in their work. This includes art by Maurizio Cattelan ( La Nona Ora ), Ron Mueck ( Youth ), Chris Ofili ( The Holy Virgin Mary ), Harmonia Rosales ( Our Lady of Regla ), and Pepon Osorio ( En La Barbería no Se Llora ). She takes conceptual cues from symbolic aspects of these artists/pieces and tries to emulate the representational effects of including iconic nouns manipulated in the final work.

The technique used in “Stations of Loss” allows for each figure, object, and element to stand out in its own way. Watercolor concentrate color and brush pen line is used in a way that allows for the viewer’s eye to travel all around the page- hopping from the brightest area to the heaviest and vice versa until all aspects of the piece have been viewed. Rivera creates a sense of urgency in her work through the horror vacui technique that allows for no space to go unattended by intentional color and line. The technique differs greatly from the traditional master-workings of Christian art in the past. Rivera’s work puts a modern, almost pop-art twist on what is traditionally a muted, somber piece of work depicting the journey of the crucifixion of Christ.

Overall, Coralis Rivera in her four-panel watercolor series “Stations of Loss” critiques and alters the traditional iconography of the fourteen stations of the cross to create commentary on one’s modern-day sense of representation, identity, and morality.

See images from Rivera’s process.