I'm Alex Orta, a young Puerto Rican with an interest in the arts from an early age. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Art History from the University of Puerto Rico.
I was a student of many merits during my school studies. I understood that if I studied I would have a reward in the future. I excelled in the arts. I won national awards between competitions and Christmas contests. But as the years passed I was taught that studying art was not good. Being an artist was not worthy in our society. That we could possibly end up living under a bridge. That was the particular phrase of any person. Out of fear and shame at my artistic abilities, I choose to study architectural drawing at the Yauco Superior Technical School. I had in mind that being an architect was being a prestigious person who would generate a lot of money. So I decide to choose to study architecture.
After graduating from high school, I learned about the possibilities of different fields of study. I discovered the Art History program and my curiosity was completely aroused. I thought I could study art history as a basis before studying architecture. And for now, my life changed.
Being from Yauco, I started my studies in 2012 at the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce where I took the basic university courses. I participated in plays and I took a course in the history of music. I worked one summer at the Ponce Art Museum where I elaborated and attended art workshops on drawing, painting, photography, and engraving. In addition, I help on tours and guarding the art rooms. After two years, I made my articulated transfer to the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus (La upi).
When I arrived at Río Piedras in 2014, my world was completely opened and my way of thinking changed for the better. I give myself the opportunity to participate in everything that is possible for me.
I fell in love with art history classes, with western and eastern art. I learned about Art in Puerto Rico, Latin American Art, Indian Art, Hispanic-Muslim Art, Mesopotamian Art, Greco-Roman Art, Medieval Art, the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Neoclassicism, the Romanticism, the Impressionism, the Modern Art, the Vanguard, the Contemporary Art. To be honest, with everything.
I was learning from the artists that influenced our history. It was a very special time because I was finding myself as my past-self, the one with dreams of being an artist. About painting and drawing with freedom.
I took courses about architecture history and I was fascinated. I chose a course about the conservation of works of art. I learned about the factors that can harm artwork and how it can help prevent damage. In addition, I took a course in museography in which I participated in art exhibitions for important artists from Puerto Rico. There was so much to learn and I was willing to know everything.
I decide to belong to the team of the Association of Students of Art History (AEHA) with Carlos Ortíz, Gelenia Trinidad, and Karina García. We do a lot of activities for the university community and for the members of the association. Thanks to them, I learned about the possibilities I had for studying art history. They are an example of inspiration to follow.
As the years passed, I participated several times in the "Enchanted Museum", an activity of the Museum of History, Anthropology, and Art. I dressed up as the Puerto Rican painter Francisco Oller to educate visiting children about his life and the art work El Velorio. I worked at the Museum of the Americas as a guide and custodian of its art rooms. I gave tours of Antonio Martorell's exhibition, IMALABRA. In addition, I helped in the conservation and preservation program of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
INTERNSHIPS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA AND MUSEO DE ARTE DE PUERTO RICO
In 2016 I made the best decision of my life. I applied for an internship without waiting for a response. But life has always given me surprises. I was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania through The Leadership Alliance: Summer Undergraduate Internship Program to conduct research on public art and the effect of murals on communities.
The emotion was inexplicable! I met my mentor Dr. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw and my coordinator Patricia Rea. They were very flexible with me and helped me with everything. I had the opportunity to interview North American artists who focused on community art. I studied the MURAL ART PROGRAM in Philadelphia, which has the largest number of murals in the world. That is why they know it as the City of Murals.
I also visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I traveled to New York for the opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Guggenheim Museum.
My research focused on the importance of murals as a means of informative, educational, and aesthetic propaganda. Through the murals, you learn stories from the communities. I presented my research in front of dozens of colleagues and teachers. Out of about 300 investigations, only my research was related to the arts. I was very proud of myself! It was a unique, enriching and incomparable experience.
When I return to Puerto Rico for my last university year, I was offered the opportunity to work a semester at the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico in the Artist Assistance Program (PROA), with the director Marta Mabel Pérez. At that time, we worked on the Radio Project and the publication of the Manual for the Professional Development of the Visual Artist. I had the opportunity to meet important artists from Puerto Rico. I learned about the museum's role in society and how different departments work for the same purpose. It was one of the best experiences I have had in my field of study.
While working with Marta Mabel, the idea came to me to create the ART IS PRIME project. ART IS PRIME was just an idea to make audiovisual content for social networks, in order for the public to learn about the arts and the projects that were being done in Puerto Rico. Something that I would have liked to know before. That was my goal!
In my last semester of university, I decided to learn to dance Bomba and Plena. I entered the Taíno Bomba group and we went to two folk music festivals in Mexico. I learned a little about their culture and from other Latin American countries that participated in the festivals.
Most of the time, I make my plans without much thought. I am always risking everything. If an opportunity appears, I take it. I don't know if I will have the same opportunity once again. Life is just one and you have to live it with experiences.
After graduation, I thought about taking a few months off and thinking about my next goals. But Hurricane Maria ruined the plans of many, including mine. I was accepted at the Complutense University of Madrid to study Museography and Museology, because of the situation after Hurricane Maria I saw it difficult for me. So I decide to focus on ART IS PRIME until I feel stable to be able to go and continue acquiring knowledge.
ART IS PRIME is one of my great projects. What started as an idea has become a reality. That has been thanks to my sister and friends who have helped me shape it. I started doing art workshops to raise funds for my studies. But then, I understood that I could invest the money raised for more arts supplies.
I wanted to do art workshops for large quantities like it was a classroom. So I bought chairs, tables, easels, brushes and a lot of paint. So that the participants did not have the need to have their own materials to participate. ART IS PRIME gives people the tools in order to put them to use their creativity. We teach you how to express yourself without prejudice. When a student feels contempt for what he draws or paints, I teach him about important artists and similar art works. I explain to him that to make art, you only need to believe in yourself.
Everything I do is because I believe in myself. I understand that art is important to people. Art shapes societies! It is found everywhere and people do not perceive it. Art is in what we hear, in what we see, in what we smell, in what we feel. Art has created in me different experiences and sensations. Now, it is my turn to create art to produce experience and sensations, for myself and for others.
More information about me and ART IS PRIME visit the blog EXPONIENDO LO ACTUAL.