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CULTURE

Sofia Maldonado: Skate My Patria

by Tamara Warren
on 05 June 2009
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Brooklyn-based artist Sofia Maldonado sees the world from the point of a 32-inch deck on four wheels, exploring the counter culture surrounding skateboards in much of her work. The muralist and painter transforms abandoned swimming pools into fantastical oases that serve as bowls for masterful tricks and reconfigures banal plywood ramps with interconnected shapes. Her imagery documents the rebellious spirit of the characters that clamor around skate-related locales, creating backdrops for discourse in her public murals.

Brightly-colored winding vines and long sloping bodies that come to a calligrapher’s point and taper off into droplets make up her landscapes that are full of Caribbean colors extracted from her San Juan upbringing. Girls amid thorny gardens and, naturally, the requisite mischievous skater boys, populate the scenes, mixing fantasy with reality.

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Maldonado draws parallels between her devotion to skate culture and her activist pursuits from New York City to her native Puerto Rico, peppering references to reggaeton culture and addressing questions of gender and identity. A recent foray took her to Cuba for the Havana Biennial earlier this year, where she created Skate My Patria, an emotionally charged project, taking on her Cuban heritage. Using cast-off skateboarding parts found in the U.S. and with the support of sponsors, the project shed light on a widely undocumented, under-served youth scene through an onsite bowl mural in Cuba.

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Real Art Ways, an arts center in Hartford, Connecticut, commissioned her latest mural, a wall above a tattoo parlor there. B

More images after the jump.

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