Helene Ruiz was born in New York City January 15th, 1958 and has been drawing and painting since childhood. Her father was the major influence in her creative interests and he always encouraged her to express herself through her art.. He, being an artist himself, was her teacher, mentor and inspiration.
In 1973 Ms. Ruiz received a scholarship to a summer arts workshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She had the opportunity to meet Salvador Dali in person while attending one of those classes, which helped to confirm her passion for surrealism.
She has exhibited her works in numerous shows from New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Orleans, Maryland, Jamaica W.I., Dominican Republic, South Florida and Virginia.
After severe spinal injuries, she realized the importance of art in her life and how impactful it was in her healing.
In October of 2008 Helene Ruiz organized the Urban Individualists, an artists collective. This artist collective was born from the vision of Helene Ruiz, an artist who resides and works out of her apartment in the Bronx, NY. Her vision is to assemble a group of artists, both visual and performing, into a collective body.
This group represents a multicultural and international network of collaborating individualists cohesively working as a unit. Ms. Ruiz has worked long hours to link her dream to the aspirations of others.
The Urban Individualists believe that we can make an impact in art as a collective body, separated only by our distinct styles. We have a voice that needs to be heard and a vision that needs to be seen.
Since organizing this collective, Helene has curated and organized many multi-media exhibits throughout NYC, Virginia, Maryland, New Orleans, South Florida and the Caribbean, creating opportunities and finding venues for artists to show their works in order to give artists who have never been seen before the platform in order to establish an artists resume, gain recognition and use their “voice” in their medium of choice.
In 2005 she received an artists grant from the Wheeler Foundation and in 2009 she received an artists grant from the Salmagundi Foundation NYFA. She has some of her works published in several books and magazines.
Helene Ruiz lives and works out of her apartment.
When did you first become interested in art?
I was told I did not speak until I was 5 yrs old and that I drew or acted out what i needed or wanted..The family said they thought “something was wrong with me” (smiles)
What style of art do you use most?
surrealism, but do dabble in some other styles, mostly surrealism, as this is how i have always seen…to me it is my “realism” to the rest of the world, I am called a “surrealist.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
Oh for sure…I used to be embarrassed to show my “real” work because of everyone calling me strange, weird, or asking me why I draw “like that?” used to try and do what everyone else claimed to see, then I decided to go for what I know..
What medium do you use?
Acrylic mainly, but do incorporate other mixed medias at times dependant on my “moods” (smilin again)
What made you choose that medium?
Basically use acrylic because I paint so often, oils take way too long to dry, my space is limited, so i need a medium that dries quickly. Being that water color was my very first painting medium, acrylic was fairly comfortable to work with. Also, due to my limited space, I cannot take the fumes that come with oil paints, although i have used them in the past, but always got really sick afterward with lung problems. so now i stick with my acrylics.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
….hmmmmm…very difficult question for someone like me….life inspires my imagination, sometimes i paint from dreams or premonitions, another difficult one to explain as i myself am just beginning to accept these auras, premonitions and dreams and trying to better understand them in order to incorporate them into my life in a positive way. My imagination never ends, but neither does life as I know it.
How do you choose your images and colours?
I use lots of symbology in my work, colors tend to represent rhythm, moods, emotions, strengths, etc..images are done in any manner my mind orders my hand to guide that brush..I ALWAYS listen to music while working, then again, even when not working..my music preference is jazz in its rawest forms, and I also am fanatical about a lot of the revolutionary music from the 60’s and 70’s, such as Lonnie Liston Smith, (LOVE THE EXPANSIONS ALBUM!) Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott Heron, etc..
Do you work in a studio?
Wish I had a studio…I work within any space available, usually my kitchen table, I live in a small apt…when I work large, I lean the surface I am working on against a wall and keep turning it around and around to work on it until done.
Who is your favourite artist?
First, my Father, then Kahlo and Dali.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
LOL…Impossible to answer that one…all are a part of my soul..I am enjoying my newest series although..but i always enjoy when I work..my work is somewhat of an autobiography to include experiences of my own, others and the environment, politics, weather, just everything…..
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
All depends, sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, and sometimes just hours.
How well do you take criticism?
I love to at least create a reaction, even if it is negative, I then know I at created some thought, so I take it very well.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
When I am finished, I feel “light” and the piece contains what I wanted in it..then the next one begins to take up where that one left off…(smiling smiling smiling…) My works will be all part of “the big puzzle” but certainly not fit by matching color or shape or forms..
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
Yes, I have exhibited in many galleries, and have curated many exhibits.
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?
Yes, I plan on putting works in a show I am curating about “maskings” masks from tribal, ceremonial, carnival to the masking of today with plastic surgeries and trying to fit into society’s expectations by looking a certain way, I just opened a solo show on friday entitled “A journey thru the healing process” which contains several pieces from different groups all annexed off a very large 450 piece series.
What are you currently working on?
A series called “the game of life”
What are your plans for the future?
To never ever stop …. and if I die, to come back and continue on…
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
A smile and pat on the back by Salvadore Dali when I was 13 yrs old at the metropolitan museum of art and my father always encouraged me to think creatively and to work without fears
What advice would you give new artists?
Do what you feel, paint with your own style and don’t pimp yourself out as an artist just for a buck, deliver a strong message and be a voice
Have you done any courses to help you?
My father used to guide me when I was kid. I then was given an opportunity to take a summer workshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was 13, where Dali walked thru and smiled down at my sketch of an obese nude model, that I drew as a large melting candle. I believe that was my confirmation for my love of surrealism. The teacher gave me a “thumbs up” gesture when she saw Dali smile and pat my back.
What do you do to market your work?
I am the worst marketing person alive i believe…I just follow my instincts and do my best
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Are you available for work (commissions)?
Never even thought about that, but doubt it would be a good idea for me, cuz i dont paint like that, i mean, i paint from my soul, my dreams, my imagination, and how life influences me.
Have you got hobbies?
I LOVE TO COOK! AND AM QUITE A GOOD COOK TOO!
Where are you based?
New York City and Virginia