The Tremaine Art Gallery is pleased to present an exhibit featuring artwork by Eilen Itzel Mena '13. Holding Self-Regard will be open to the Hotchkiss Community only and runs Feb. 9 - 28. A reception and artist talk will be held in the gallery on Feb. 13. Mena will serve as artist-in-residence during the exhibit’s run, conducting workshops with students in the studio art program, participating in programming with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department, as well as meeting with student affinity groups.
Eilen Itzel Mena is an Afro-Dominican American artist, writer and community organizer originally from the South Bronx. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2017, with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. Her visual arts practice synthesizes Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, and African Diaspora spiritual frameworks through interdisciplinary work. The Tremaine exhibit will present new work by Mena and she will share from the show and residency through her social media channels: Facebook (Eilen Itzel Mena), Twitter (@eilen_itzel) and Instagram (@eilen.itzel.mena). Sales inquiries can be directed to Delfina Pattacini.
Holding Self-Regard is a homecoming for Mena. “When preparing for this exhibition, I had to create new pathways to find a way back to a place of deep self-regard,” she writes. “The journey involved asking myself questions surrounding beauty, love, support, and connection. How do I see beauty and pride within myself and my community? In what ways do I express love and feel most loved? How can I create a safe space for my spirit to grow? What is needed for me to feel protected? How does spirit, family, and community support my expression of self? My artwork became the answer to these inquiries.”
“Beauty and adornment are omnipresent in this exhibition,” she adds. “They remind us that in order to truly be seen we have to see ourselves in high regard first. We must feel safe and protected for us to exhibit authenticity.”
In her social practice, Mena serves as a Co-Director and creative collaborator for Honey and Smoke, a global artist community and platform focused on creating space for artists to meditate on the important themes of our time through themed seasons. It is a conceptual project that explores these themes through new media and interactive digital content. She is also a Principal Member of Zeal. Zeal is a Black artist cooperative, creative agency, and studio that creates infrastructure for Black artists to thrive.
Mena has exhibited work in New York, San Francisco, Miami and London and has been covered by various publications such as the New York Times, Vogue, Cultured Magazine, Deem Journal and Hyperallergic, amongst others. In 2018, she participated in the LSI Artist Residency in London, UK organized by the UCL Slade School of Fine Arts and the Camden Arts Center. In 2020, she was an artist in residence for Zeal’s Art Studio Incubator Program in Inglewood, CA. Through Zeal, she curated the exhibition Who Owns Black Art?: Questions on Cultural Ownership in Miami during Art Basel 2019.
Her multifaceted creative practice helps her connect African Diaspora, spirituality, culture, identity, and purpose. Her painting work explores the relationship between childhood and adulthood in order to bring forth healing and activation of purpose. Highlighting adult concepts with a childlike aesthetic, allows her to reimagine and challenge representations of trauma and emotional space. Her compositions reflect dreams, emotions and spiritual experiences. The color combinations she uses in her work are inspired by different African indigenous cultures. Her visual language manifests through a lexicon of repeating shapes, figures, inversions and forms such as rainbows, swords, flowers, and smiley faces. They all serve their own meaning and purpose in this language. Through semi figurative and abstract imagery, she visualizes real and imaginative spaces. Exploring the dream realm in her compositions, in particular, allows for the re-envisioning of reality and expansion of what is possible in our social and environmental interactions.
In the Fall of 2022, Eilen Itzel Mena will begin an MFA in Painting candidacy at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in London, UK.