David Rios Ferreira merges historical etchings, 1930s political cartoons and children’s coloring books to produce eerily alluring abstract drawings and sculptures. Clusters of lines and layers of color dominate space creating dense hybrid forms. Familiar characters like Astro Boy, Pinocchio and Peter Pan are deconstructed and reconstituted to become temporal beings and repositories for personal and political histories.
This meditation on the past stems from Ferreira’s family history and his identity as a mainland Puerto Rican. There is his reflection on deculturalization practices conducted by the U.S. on children in Puerto Rico in the 1950s—strategies Ferreira’s parents remember as nursery rhymes and school pledges. Then there is the behavior exhibited by his nephews on the Autism Spectrum—of borrowing lines from cartoons in order to communicate. Their interest in animated films goes beyond childish obsession and becomes their source for language.
As his nephews remix existing material to navigate their world, Ferreira is drawn to comparable practices in carnival costumes and masks found in the Caribbean and West Africa. New identities are constructed from recycled fragments. Everyday objects become ingredients for structures of power, spiritual tradition, and tools for addressing social and political issues.
These different, yet structurally aligned practices serve as inspiration for Ferreira’s work. Coloring books and animation, historical references, and other appropriated images are his “found objects.” The tension between these objects, their meaning, and what they are imbued with in being forced together coalesce into a study on identity formation—an investigation of gender, sexuality, race and nation.