José Arenas | AHA Artist in the Press

José Arenas

Much of my work revolves around having a dual identity, of dislocation and displacement, and of feeling a sense of disorientation from growing up in 2 countries. These two geographies, Mexico and the United States, were parallel worlds with distinct customs and rituals that have become a point of investigation in my work …


José Arenas - view more artwork from José Arenas

José Arenas spent much of his childhood traveling between Northern California and Guadalajara, Mexico

Much of my work revolves around having a dual identity, of dislocation and displacement, and of feeling a sense of disorientation from growing up in 2 countries. These two geographies, Mexico and the United States, were parallel worlds with distinct customs and rituals that have become a point of investigation in my work. I explore this personal experience by creating collage style vignettes that ultimately become fully realized paintings. Metaphorical images like birds, navigational symbols – maps, compasses, and ships- have been used at times to allude to place, direction, and the feeling of living in a state of in-between.

José Arenas, an Oakland (CA) and Brooklyn (NY) based artist, was born in San José, California. He spent much of his childhood traveling between Northern California and Guadalajara, Mexico. His experiences navigating cultures, past and present, is a point of investigation in his work. Themes in his imagery include migration, memory, childhood, rituals and rites of passage, and disjointed identities. Arenas’ work has been exhibited throughout the United States: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York City.

Arenas, an Associate Professor of Art at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California from 2000-2010, has developed many courses that include Public Mural Making; and Materials, Media & Techniques: from Renaissance to Modern Street Graphics. Arenas received a BFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995. His MFA is from UC Davis,  2000.

view more artwork of José Arenas