Rebuilding a Broken Youth: Mixed Media

Artist Statement

I exist somewhere in limbo, somewhere between privilege and poverty, my past and my future, sanity and institutionalization. Many of my pieces are rife with the chaos my vastly different lives have created.

There’s no denying the dominant force in my virtual world is color. As a high functioning autistic woman, I not only see colors but live inside of them. Behavior regimes for people on the Autism Spectrum, which track emotional volatility, are color-coded. For so many the world exists in states of mind/body experiences that range from, green, purple, and yellow to the unholy Red (autistic meltdown). Our lives are spent managing and negating our daily lives in a manner that does not evoke “the Red” inside of us.

Alienation is a huge theme in the work. The worlds are simultaneously complex and rigid while being haphazard and incomplete. Intentionally the work remains unresolved and raw because in a body that is precarious and has a low level of emotional control, the world often appears this way, constantly near a breaking point. We are always fearful of the monsters in chasm right below, ready to strike and rip away our world in an instant. Every day is like the curse of Sisyphus. Painting is my one refuge and my savior from this unstable world.

Doraelia RuizBorn and raised in West Texas in a small oil town where the gaps between the wealthy and the poor are vast, I was born on the wrong side of the canyon. When I was 17 I attended Brown University and studied race, class, and education. Growing up the black sheep cousin to the children of rich and privileged was maddening for a queer, and autistic, Hispanic girl raised on welfare.

After trying for years to jump the canyon and finally succeeding, I learned the truth about my life as a member of the underclass and simultaneously received my diagnosis of autism. Suddenly years of maddening confusion, alienation, self-loathing, and disenfranchisement began to unfold itself into a deeper truth. I also began to understand that though my childhood had been under-privileged, a single letter from Brown had changed all that. Now I was a part of the elusive elite and recognizing my privilege created an enormous personal divide within myself.

Today my paintings are no longer merely emotional outbursts but are full retrospectives on my own personal experiences of alienation. My works take on the turmoil of identity in a landscape that is plummeting forward with its head stuck in the past.

 I am currently pursuing my MFA from Claremont Graduate University.