UTSA alumna Andrea Reyes focuses on being present in the moment
Memento, derived from the Latin word meminisse,meaning “to remember,” is typically recognized in “memento mori” which translates to “remember death,” a phrase used to reflect upon mortality. Many people recall this phrase in order to better appreciate moments in life or to guide them on a path to righteousness. Similarly, the Spanish translation for “moment” is “momento.”
2015 UTSA alumna and artist Andrea Reyes continues analyzing “moments” through mixed media. Born in Eagle Pass, Texas, and raised in Piedra Negras, Mexico, she explores “Being in the present time by acting spontaneously and instinctively with moments of innocence, experimentation and discovery,” according to the UTSA Department of Art & Art History website. Her continuous experience teaching art, and playing with children in Piedra Negras, inspired all of her work. Reyes’ latest exhibition is located at Terminal 136 in UTSA’s downtown art gallery, and is a continuation of an ongoing series that began with 2015’s Momento No. 1.
Reyes revealed the origins and inspiration behind Momento. She was experimenting with new art materials in one of UTSA’s studios a few months before graduation. She became increasingly interested “by the reactions of different materials when mixed together or applied at different surfaces of a painting,” Reyes said. What began with one painting soon evolved into a series.
“Momento is named after my ethnic origin from Mexico and Spanish being my first language,” Reyes explained. The artist typically works on multiple pieces at a time because it allows her to appreciate the moment and not focus on any particular painting. “There are no rules when creating my work so that I won’t control or limit myself, but I do create ‘games’ were I challenge myself to have moments of amusement, engagement and motivation,” Reyes said.
The single-room gallery presents 12 mounted pieces of art. Four paintings hang on the three surrounding walls, inviting viewers to begin where they please. The use of mixed media evokes a feeling inside the viewer, attempting to push through the surface, just as the acrylic appears to pierce through the paint. Each piece utilizes solid colors that bleed into one another, as they ripple across the canvas, creating a fusion of nebula-like patterns.
2017’s Momento No. 15 features a series of lines that intersect and swirl within one another before being seemingly congealed within a shimmering jet-black and viscous area of the canvas. The spot spills into a grey figure that dangles off of the left side of the frame. The mixture of different mediums that overlap and perforate the typical “frame” exemplify Reyes’ simultaneously clashing, yet harmonious mediums, that challenge the viewer to look outside and underneath what is being initially presented.
At 22-by-30 feet, Momento No. 24 is the largest piece on the left wall. The broad red strokes appear to rest above, and below, the central black and grey figure. Initially, the circles located at the top left appear to reside within the whole painting, and the raised acrylic perforates the canvas. The use of mixed media is so striking that it almost tempts viewers to break the cardinal rule of art: do not touch. The figure’s resemblance to a mother and child is both correct, and incorrect, since Reyes leaves interpretation to the viewer. The pieces are “influenced by the behavior and decision making of children when using a material for the first time, and how they apply it to the surface of a painting,” Glasstire said. It is the piece’s unique creation during a specific moment in time – a time that cannot be replicated – that is most important and appreciated.
Momento No. 17 resides in the center of the exhibit’s back wall. Although it is not the largest piece, at 18-by-22 inches it demonstrates Reyes’ unique method of creation. Multitudes of colors and patterns present themselves on a bleak gray canvas. A deep red square demands attention; however, it is broken and disrupted by another over-laying shape, filled in by numerous lines at varying widths. “The thick peeled paint in the upper right of the painting is from dried paint that I randomly found poured in a bench,” Reyes explained.
On top of these squares are unidentifiable shapes and forms featuring shades of apricot, teal, jade, brown and pink in their familiar solid and nebula–like patterns. Each color appears to be its own layer, torn and revealed beneath one another, thus calling each layers’ origin into question. Reyes recalls this method to her time working at a daycare and ripping pieces of paper with toddlers. A piece of acrylic rests in the middle of the colors and quietly disrupts the controlled chaos of rips and tears. It is a powerful display of color theory and layering.
The final piece hanging in the series is Momento No. 32. Primarily a mix of reds, whites and pinks, the piece features black and gray acrylic with flecks of oranges and blues dispersed across the canvas. Multiple layers rest underneath the acrylic and feature different saturations of reds that bleed and fade to the edges of the canvas. Reyes’ pencil marks are visible and capture the “in-the-moment” feel she uniquely achieves with all 35 of her different, current pieces in the Momento series.
When asked about any upcoming projects, Reyes revealed, “I am currently working in a new series of photography were I capture and document different textures, colors and shapes in a specific time frame during the process of creation of my paintings.”
Momento is free and open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Terminal 136. UTSA’s downtown art gallery is located in the Blue Star District, and this exhibition is open until Oct. 20. For more information about the current exhibit, please visit art.utsa.edu/andrea-reyes and andreareyesart.com.