Helene Ruiz: Making Visual the Otherwise Unseen and Artist Collaboration

By | 3:47 PM
Today I am so excited to introduce you to Helene Ruiz, an acrylic painter based in the United States. At the age of 57, she is not certain the exact moment she began to use her medium of choice - acrylic paints. She does recall this story tracing back to her childhood:

"My father always taught me to think creatively and he himself was an artist. When I was a kid and wanted colors I extracted colors from comic strips, nature, coffee, teas, etc. My first painting kit was not actually purchased until I was about 11 years old when my father took me to Pearl Paint in Chinatown, Manhattan and bought me watercolors and brushes, of which I still have some of the brushes for memory's sake. I played with them until I discovered oil paint, which I found each time I used it - I would get sick.  Apparently I am allergic to them. So then, when I used acrylic for the first time, I fell in love with them. They were perfect for me! The fact that I paint a lot and live in a small space makes acrylic a perfect match for someone like myself, since they dry so fast." 

Acrylic painting on black background with two clowns dancing around sad face balloon with heart hanging in center
Send in the Clowns, © Helene Ruiz

Jester or fool garbed sleeping or dead character reposed in yellow bathtub with heart outside of chest on black background
Expired Fool, © Helene Ruiz

Helene is working on a collaborative project with artists all over the world, that I find so very fascinating. This interview will delve into that in detail since it is an event taking place Now.  If you are an artist who wants to participate, find out how by reading on. First, let's get to know Helene Ruiz, the artist, a little better - she assures me there is an entire book's worth of uncharted stories within her...

Would you tell us about your most memorable artworks? 

I have used so many materials... it is actually difficult to say which would be my most memorable pieces. I suppose those are the ones I do to try and show what is unseen. I try to express my take on life and how I perceive life's take on others as well. Anything can trigger me... environment, politics, love, pain, illness, etc

What has been the most unexpected thing that has happened in relation to your creating art? 

Funny, I find this question here, especially now at the end of April 2015. Because just about a month ago, on March 28th, I almost lost my life and was rushed into emergency surgery. I am still recovering and doctors say it could be six months before I actually do recover fully. I have another surgery to go through in June to put me back together again so I can feel human. So, this experience, right now, is the most challenging of all life's events thus far!  Only today have I attempted to begin to sketch out a painting... it will not be easy. I will be forced to do it in small steps, but it will be the first since March 28th. For me, I usually do at least two or more pieces per month, so this has been a long spell of not creating art for me. 

You are currently working on a large collaborative exhibit, within the concept of the exquisite corpse gameWhat is your favorite thing about this project

I am so looking forward to this project as it lends opportunity for us to work together, and to work internationally with artists as well, since we can mail to each other. When working with an artist internationally, it is a wondrous feeling of having the ability to collaborate with someone on a project with no concern of language barriers or distance where otherwise this may have been impossible.

Hands reaching up in busy background seeming to juggle or grasp for many cluttered objects lady looking up sadly black background acrylic painting
Balancing Acts, © Helene Ruiz

Can you share more about the process and how each stage of this project works? 

The concept is fairly simple with some very interesting outcomes. One artist will start a half of an artwork, covering their half and leaving only approximately one inch or less for the next artist to continue from and complete to make one cohesive piece. After that artist completes, they then remove the covering and reveal the finished work. I absolutely love to play this as a game when entertaining and also kids enjoy this as a game. It is great to play with kids because it teaches them how to work together. Psst... it also teaches adults... though they may not want to admit that. *smiles*

What is the timeline for creating this work? 

It depends, if I use as a game, we time 15 minutes for each participant. For this particular exhibit, the show will open on Sept. 25th 2015. Deadline to apply is in August. There is lots of time to produce works. There is still opportunity to participate to artists out there since this interview was recently published! Just email me for info - I have given the open call and details here: The Resurrection of The Exquisite Corpse Document and Instructions  - feel free to share with others.

How many people are involved in helping to make it? 

It all depends on how many join in; I will have several prominent poets coming in from NYC for the opening reception doing some collaborative poetry and engaging the public to feel free to play along if they like. Amazing Poet and writer - Mr. William "Wah Wah" Washington will be directing the poetry aspects for me in this project. I will have musicians performing some collaborative music pieces at the opening and dancers performing collaborative choreographed dance routines as well. I want to show how expansive this concept can actually be and how interesting the turnout is. 

Visual illustration in acrylic paint on black background of characters from the Jimi Hendrix song of the same name
The Wind Cries Mary, © Helene Ruiz 

Have you been involved in other collaborative projects other than the journal? 

I have collaborated in many ways I suppose in the past and always enjoyed the challenge. A fellow friend and artist of mine - who lives overseas - invited me in an exhibit in Amsterdam a few years back. She and myself also held a workshop on this in Harlem's NY State Office building as well. 

Do you have any advice for artists about staying focused to meet deadlines while working on collaborative projects? 

Yes... I say never stress... just be free and enjoy the process. If you have passion as your main medium - it will show in your work. If you don't enjoy it, then do not do it. That is it.
Any other professional words of wisdom or encouragement? 

Passion, passion, passion... love what you do... appreciate your gift and do not waste your time. 

Acrylic figurative painting of woman wearing fools cap reaching for her heart that is caught in string attached to spool. Predominantly purple color with black background.
The Joker Strings Along the
 Heart of a Fool, © Helene Ruiz 
Where can readers find out more about your art online?

My works can be found on my website and also you can google me "helene ruiz artist." 

Please visit these links as well:

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