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Urayoán “YOA” Ruiz Paneque

Can you tell us a little about your personal background?

I was born July 16, 1982 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My dad’s family is from Puerto Rico and my mom’s family is from Cuba. I’ve been living in Miami since I was 9 years old. I graduated from Florida International University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Advertising. I currently reside in Miami, with my beautiful wife Cathy and son Giovanni, where I’m constantly working on new projects.

Did you have any formal art training?

Yes. I studied fine art at Florida International University. I completed my degree in Communications and Advertising but took many fine art and design courses along the way.

What inspires you?

Life itself. I am often amazed by the simple things in nature and human beings. I consider myself a very optimistic person seeking the positive side of any situation. My family has been my greatest blessing and they allowed me to experience the joys of childhood. In reflecting to my childhood I travel to a place of fun, peace, and love. My culture from both Puerto Rico & Cuba fill me with a strong sense of pride that comes alive in much of my artwork and my life. I also find inspiration in music and always listen to it while I’m painting. Much of my work is also inspired by nature. I am a very spiritual being and I often times simply turn to God for inspiration. I think my work is ultimately rooted in faith and that’s part of the message I try to convey.

What made you chose that medium?

After I took several drawing classes at FIU using charcoals and pencils, I finally decided to take a painting class where for the first time I worked with oils. I was hooked after the first stroke and never looked back since.

How do you find inspiration?

Inspiration for me is usually linked to a spiritual connection with an area of my life. I try and capture an inner emotion and feeling and translate it to the canvas. The main focus of my art is to embrace the human connection between music, nature, love and spiritual life. At times when I have difficulty getting inspired, I turn to those key aspects of my life and find the way through to reconnect with my vision. Whether it’s reconnecting with nature, listening to music or maybe seeing a great film.

What is your favorite aspect of art?

It is truly liberating. To be able to put all your thoughts, feelings and emotions into a work of art is always a journey. The creative process of creating the art is always a rollercoaster of emotions. From the excitement of the initial idea, to the labor and at times struggle of the execution and then the reward of seeing it finished. It’s also the unique experience of seeing a complete stranger make an intimate connection with something you created.

Who inspired you to be an artist?

I have had many influences in my life from several creative fields. Ranging from extraordinary film directors like Spielberg and Ron Howard to masters of fine art like MC Escher. From a more personal experience, I can remember as a teenager going to visit the studio in Old San Juan of the Puerto Rican maestro Dennis Mario Rivera, who is a friend of my fathers. I remember, like it was yesterday, experiencing what it was like to be in his studio and the feeling that sank in when I realized that people actually make art for a living. I knew then and there that’s what I wanted to do.

What do you put in your art that represents you?

Everything! I think ultimately my art is an extension of myself. It represents my inner most thoughts and emotions. Part of the intricacies of my work is in the details. All the line-work and patterns in my paintings are done entirely freehand, without any prior sketch or stencils. This allows me to ‘go with the flow’ and create whatever I am feeling at the time. It is an unfiltered passage to my brain, my heart and my life.

Do you try to make a statement with your art?

Definitely. I create my art for my own reasons and creative challenges. But my ultimate challenge is to have an audience connect with the work and receive the message. My art attempts to embrace the human connection between music, nature, love and spiritual life.

Are there any beliefs you have that show through your art?

I am a very spiritual person and I believe we as humans are all connected. We share similar joys and similar fears. In essence everything I do is linked to my beliefs. Some of my work like the series titled, LEAP OF FAITH is inspired by dreams and life experiences and it focuses on breaking through barriers in order to reach higher. It’s an invitation to embrace faith, take a chance and move towards the hope of a better tomorrow. I have other series focused on the importance and appreciation for Nature and the way with connect with it. I also believe music is an integral part of life. A day without music is like a day without light.