Ruben Marroquin is a Brooklyn-based artist whose career developed from his early works as a painter in Venezuela. Marroquin’s work has since evolved over two decades ranging from hand embroidery to large-scale installations.
A profound interest in reconnecting with his ancestry motivated this work with textiles and continues to be a gravitational force and a catalyst for his art.
How did your technique evolve?
My work developed through experiments with self taught embroidery. I was studying art and wanted to use textiles. Years later, while working on projects with bamboo to create kites, I came up with the idea of incorporating bamboo underneath the threads. Then came bottles and found objects I’ve incorporated.
Working with interior designers on bespoke projects helped me hone down my technique in relation to color, notably with Kelly Wearstler‘s input. I think the feedback of clients was crucial and I benefited from their expertise and sophistication. My latest evolution was scale.
Working for Art in Embassies on a project for the U.S. Consulate in Mexico on a 20 foot mural gave me the confidence to work on larger pieces. The U.S. Consulate project was inspired in part by an indigenous group in northern Mexico called the Seri.
This source has enriched my process tremendously as I continue to learn from their work. I have started collecting baskets made by incredibly talented Seri artisans and these pieces inform my journey every day.
There seems to be endless scope to Rubens’s practice and it is quite extraordinary to see work so well fitted for interiors, also developed into prestigious and large-scale commissioned murals.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
I would like to work more on public commissions and explore possibilities involving outdoor pieces.
I was recently inspired by David Bowie’s documentary. His creative process is something I completely relate to, living a peripatetic existence like he did, is my dream, working in different countries and as per his advice, ignoring preconceived notions. I’ve thought of creating pieces with more personal meaning, I see this as my next challenge.
It’s interesting to hear Ruben describe working on more personal meanings as his next challenge. For me when viewing his work, I see the pieces jam packed with personal narrative, especially around his heritage. To see this narrative evolve into deeper reflections is a very exciting thought.
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What other artists inspire you?
Eamon Ore-Giron, who also will have work in the US Consulate in Mexico was a major influence, as well as the fascinating work and lifestyle of the Seri Indigenous group of Sonora. I find tremendous spiritual gratification in Native American objects. Last year I visited the Smithsonian Museum of Native American Art in South Street Seaport in Manhattan.
The objects are charged with power, based in spirituality and integrated functionality. I am particularly enthralled by Inuit cradle boards and the paintings found in wooden objects from Alaska.
What is your favourite tool to use in your practice?
Sharp objects such as awls, fine scissors, and jewellery-making pliers are my favourite tools. I’ve also invested in Japanese tools for treating bamboo like splitters, bamboo knives and planes used to flatten the material.
Can you share one creative tip with our readers?
Textile work takes a long time, have a vision and set your mind to it. The best moments of creation are when one forgets how long it takes and reach a meditative state of mind.
This is achieved by setting the right conditions, having a studio space, working consistently through the day. The best advice I ever got from an art school professor was to work every day, even if it is just a few minutes a day.
What wonderful advice for those working with textiles. Time is so precious and when great time is gifted to a piece of work, the outcomes are not only beautiful but it also has a profound effect on our wellbeing.
Thank you so much to Ruben for his wise teachings and for sharing his ambitious practice. If you would like to find out more about his work, make sure to follow him on Instagram and check out his website.
Until next time!
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