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nesto_artist_1_1The walls of the Nesto Gallery will soon be ablaze with bright colors, rich texture, and the stories that artist Chandra Dieppa Ortiz has to share. Through inter-related series of paintings, mixed media collage and assemblage, Ms. Ortiz explores the historical and contemporary use of storytelling. Employing musical forms such as jazz, blues and hip-hop she creates complex, rhythmic compositions, where fragments, symbols and images play against textured surfaces.

“I explore issues of race, class, gender and culture in the hopes of creating a dialogue between communities and generations by visualizing cultural armor,” Ms. Ortiz says. “I believe that ‘cultural armor’ protects by using love, humor, faith, music, stories and the telling of home truths to empower and inspire each generation.”

Ms. Ortiz is now interpreting the works of the late playwright August Wilson through collages that juxtapose the rhythm, dialect and “beautiful struggle” of the black experience in the twentieth century.

“I create visual stories that weave in layers of lived experience, communal history and resilience,” Ms. Ortiz says in her artist statement. “Working in series allows me to shift position and medium while keeping a constant rhythm through my inter-related works. These works examine marginality, oppression and community while striking at the larger historical struggle and conundrum of being American. I use personal narratives as a starting point to tell stories from 1915 to the present. I draw upon my background of growing up biracial in the North and Southeast and the migration of my family as inspiration for my art, which ranges from figurative paintings on paper to mixed media assemblages incorporating family history and photographs to full-scale installations.”

Ms. Ortiz is an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and the art director for Dorchester Academy, a Boston Public High School. She was recently nominated for the prestigious Foster Prize from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Ms. Ortiz’s art has been on exhibit at the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists in Boston; The New Art Center in Newton, Massachusetts; La Casa De La Cultura/The Center for Latino Arts in Boston; and at the Boston Center for the Arts and The Copley Society of Boston.

Her “Four Voices” exhibit opens in the Nesto Gallery on Tuesday, October 25 and runs through November 22. An opening reception is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on October 25 in the Gallery, which is located in the lower level of the Art and Media Center. While on campus, Ms. Ortiz will visit with student cultural groups and attend art classes. She will also speak with Upper School students during assembly on October 26.

For more information on Ms. Ortiz’s work, please go to