By NICOLE WEST
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, visual artist Vincent Valdez described his journey to becoming an artist Oct. 8 in the Writer’s Block in Gonzales Hall.
Valdez graduated from Burbank High School in San Antonio, and in 2000, he received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design.
Valdez began showed his childhood drawings to the students, including Superman and “The Ugly Duckling.”
“I first started drawing at the age of 3. It came so natural to me, I assumed everyone can draw like me,” he said.
Valdez recalls visiting his grandparent’s house, where he remembers it as a little museum because of his great grandfather’s paintings hanging on the hallway walls.
“I remember sitting in the dark hallway staring at the paintings, deciding this is what I want to do,” Valdez said.
As a child, he heard stories about his grandfather’s and his father’s time in the military. His father, Authur Valdez, was drafted in the military while he was a student at this college studying radio-television-film in 1970 and served in the military from 1969-1972, Valdez said.
The war stories that Valdez heard throughout his life inspired his art.
At age 10, Valdez started painting murals on the West Side of San Antonio with his friend Alex Rubio. As Valdez got older, he saw an increase of technical capabilities in his work, Valdez said.
“For me, it was like anything else, like riding a bike or playing basketball. The more and more I practiced, the more and more I saw an increase of skills,” Valdez said. “I had this strength from that same subject, the ultimate immortal, the ultimate superman.”
Valdez described a defining experience:
“When I saw the movie ‘Platoon,’ it really made a huge impact on me, not for the sake of the violence or action. I was sort of a witness of the audience. I looked around the audience in the theater and saw how the movie theater was in absolute silence. I saw how some people were in shock. I guess you can define that moment because that’s it, that’s what I want to do. I want to be able to move an audience through pictures. I saw that the possibilities were endless.”
Valdez said he enjoys looking at photographs by documentary photographers because they are cinematic.
Valdez also got his inspiration from his grandfather’s boxing career.
“I tend to think of heroes as glorious, masculine, vulnerable individuals,” Valdez said.
Valdez has won numerous recognitions for his art and films including a 2008 U.S. Artist Grant Nominee and a 2002 Best of Show Award from Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin.
Valdez has had solo exhibitions in museums in Texas, Florida and California and other parts of the country. His most recent work titled, “America’s Finest,” is showcased at the McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels, until Jan. 27.
For more information on Valdez, visit his website at www.vincentvaldezofficialsite.com.