In episode 24, I had the opportunity to interview and get to know Chicano artist Ruben Urrea Moreno. Born and raised in South Tucson, Ruben embraces storytelling that focus on his cultural roots, social issues, and migrant stories. His artistic skills go beyond a paint brush and pencil, Ruben currently works as the Senior Exhibit Preparator at the Arizona State Museum. He tells the story of how he got the position and how it relates to his work history in carpentry and other trades. A big part of his job is designing and constructing special museum fixtures, putting up temporary walls and partitions, installing and arranging exhibits, all of which require some type of artistic element(s).
I enjoyed listening to all his short stories from his humbling beginnings with his Nana and the artistic outlet she provided for him as a child. I learned more about his involvement in the Arizona State Museum Exhibition Series titled, “They Don’t Love You, Like I Love You: Indigenous Perspectives on Sovereignty,” which includes stories from the Tohono O’odham, Hia-Ced O’odham, Pascua Yaqui, Gila River and Salt River Communities. One story in particular that Ruben tells is how he reimagined and what the inspiration was behind his creation of a visual image of what I’itoi (Elder Brother) of the O’odham would look like. There is little to no known illustrations of what I’itoi looks like when searching online or trying to look into books, magazines, etc. Ruben designed the idea of what he felt I’itoi would look like based off of descriptive stories of I’itoi that he heard from the O’odham. There is so much more to this conversation, so I hope you enjoy and learn more about Ruben as an individual and as an artist.
You can also listen to the short form interview with Ruben Urrea Moreno here.