Latinx Artist Fellowship

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Diógenes Ballester

Arteologist and Multimedia Artist

New York, NY

As an artist and arteologist, I have increasingly focused my work on visual representations and the exploration of oral history, memory, mythology, ritual, spirituality and cultural identity across a transnational spectrum. I assert that one of the functions of the artist-arteologist, like that of the “archaeologist,” is to uncover, investigate, extrapolate meaning, and offer a reconfigured perspective on what has been left behind as artifacts.

Diógenes Ballester (he/him; b. 1956, Ponce, Puerto Rico) is a renowned visual artist, self- described an Arteologist, writer and educator who has lived in New York, (El Barrio of Hispanic Harlem) for 42 years. In his work, Ballester uncovers ancestral knowledge and cosmology through the act of researching cultural objects and symbols. He appropriates and repurposes those symbols and objects into his multimedia work, which comprises sketches, paintings, assemblages, drawings, prints and electronic media, reflecting on what these have to offer our current and future world. He integrate the different elements into an installation, designed to reconfigure and re-contextualize meaning and provide altar or chapel-like spaces for reflection on the layers of history and culture embedded in the work. The installations become a method of accessing the past and re-interpreting the present in a Puerto Rican, trans-Caribbean and transnational dialogue.

Ballester’s  work has been exhibited in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, the United States, France, China and other countries in hundreds of galleries and museums, some of which, like the National Museum of African American History and Culture and The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., have included his work in the permanent collection. He has received numerous honors for his artistic work. He was guest of Honor to the 2nd International Print Biennial of Guanlan in China in 2009; and He won the prize for the Best Exhibition of the Year in the Contemporary Media from The International Association of Art Critics (AICA) of Puerto Rico in 2007. Recently, he received the Center for Creative Economy Grant to continue building his legacy project Casa de Arte y Cultura de La Playa de Ponce in 2022; and Para La Naturaleza Grant for conducting a research project which conclude in a multimedia installation entitled Arteology: Chapel for Reflection in 2023.

Selected Works

A circular assemblage placed on the floor features a small pedestal at its center with an open book, and an earth-toned background with geometric shapes and figures surrounding it.
A view of an installation shows a sculptural assemblage with figurines on tall pedestals in front of a painting depicting an array of figurines and a mask.
A view of an installation features a colorful encaustic painting with signage depicting the Spanish translation of a stanza of the poem “The Crying of the Earth” by Mary K. Boucher. The installation also includes an assemblage on the floor that resembles a trap made from wood and metal surrounded by cowry shells and charcoal.