Week 5 – Artist Conversation – Cruz Valdez

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Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to meet Cruz Valdez. I was, however, captivated by his message conveyed through the live art. The title “Male Projections” suggests quite a bit. I found it interesting how the six images in the entire work really had a powerful message, at least in my eyes.

In the first photo, there is seems to be a man, somewhat looking into the camera as his mouth seems to be covered by a dark shade. This shade in itself suggests that we, as people, are perceptive and may think initially that he is smiling. On the contrary, in reality, he could be falsely smiling or frowning. Regardless, he is standing in front of camera, where he can be analyzed. This picture is a clear depiction of the fact that sometimes we cannot know what people are experiencing or what they have gone through. So, the picture promotes the concept of concern and consideration for other people.

The second photo contains interesting material and subliminal messages as well. There is, apparently, a young man taking a picture of himself, while he has his hands on his heart. If one looks closely enough, not only are the young man’s eyes highlighted by a white mask-like shaped shade, but the young man is not really holding a phone. The mask shade and the phone are both the same color and tint, while he remains the same. This implies, maybe, that either the young boy is not really who he says he is, or he is hiding. Nevertheless, he is subject to someone or something that he is not. He knows who and what he is, but he is not ready to show it to the world just yet. However, whatever he puts out to the world is how he will be perceived in the eyes of others and what he will be known by and for.

In the third photo, one can see the torso of a male figure, while he takes outlines the keyhole to his heart. We do not see the head. One can decode the message that this man is not proud of himself or he is insecure. If so, he only gives himself credit for his torso and abs, which he may think people want to see. However, the information within the picture dictates that the man is forty-two years of age, which may make him want to hide or remain discreet from the general crowd that go on sites for dating. Unfortunately for his age group, the people within it are seen as perverts if they are seen mingling on a site that society would deem appropriate for adolescents and young adults even though they all seek the same thing: romance. Ultimately, this man solely desires to still be visible.

A man with his lifted muscles in the light and the dark is visible in the forth picture. Only a part of him is brightened in the picture, which may suggest that only a part of him matters. He is also turned away from the camera, which evokes a certain idea of conformity. The young man in this picture has not realized his self worth just yet, as he has conformed to the societal standard that “muscles” are attractive. As he is turned away from the camera and shows just his muscles and his backside, he has admitted that he has acquiesced to conformity, not completely believing in himself or his self-worth.

In picture number five, or “This Is Happening”, there is a man who lifts his arm to display his arm. At the same time, he is wearing sun glasses. This guy seems to be fitting a certain frame. Maybe he is not doing this for himself, but maybe for someone else as he covers his eyes, which are almost essential to familiarity. He stands in front of the digital background, outlining almost perfectly, which implies that he is not himself either. So, he has not decided what or who he is, although he seems to be confident.

In the sixth and final photo, there is a clear depiction of what one would think is an insecure young man. He covers himself up as if he were hiding from someone or something that he did not want to see him. His right eye is covered by a dark shade. That image portrays a young man who has not been completely understood; so, he has, in some way, closed himself off from the world. The places in which he covers himself are highlighted by a bright white light, indicating that although he is misunderstood or an outcast, he has a certain light or beauty about him that has not been seen by all he has encountered.

These images really stood out to me not only because of the interesting choice of framework through a large phone, but because of the emotional responses the images provoke. There is a lot to learn from just these photos. Each one delivers a certain message, which contribute to an overall theme: perception. I had an idea pertaining to each picture, but these photos were just projections. These images demonstrate a problem in society that is a part of everyday life for many men in the world. Like women, men have a certain standard that they must meet to be “men”, and without meeting it, they are likely to be criticized or chastised for it. Cruz Valdez did an amazing job illustrating this problem.

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