John Rivas

Region: Northeast

 John Rivas is a figurative painter whose narrative is guided by stories of his ancestors. As a first-generation American, Rivas makes artwork enriched with tales of family members, several of whom he’s met remotely or through photographs.

Rivas’s paintings occupy space like sculpture, juxtaposing found objects, many of which are sourced from his childhood. His brushstrokes, thick with impasto, are expressive marks that add to the visual collage. The complexity of his work is made up of the true color spectrum of Latinx faces. Loaded with personal symbolism and themes that celebrate family and community, his work examines the socioeconomic, racial, and cultural boundaries of immigrant lives.

The artist attributes the frenetic energy of his work to the long history of his hardworking family members. The raw “roughness and edges (of my work) come from my family of farmers, family of construction workers—I know what it is to be under the sun, working, sweating. I know how it feels; I am a dirty kid but I can make beauty out of anything.”