The exhibition Familias is deeply personal for the artist who created the work, Ramiro Davaro-Comas. The series, which is on view in the East and Hodges Galleries of the Albany Museum of Art from Sept 7, 2023-Jan 6, 2024, depicts families that maintain physical closeness even as they are caught in moments of immense transition, migrating through surreal landscapes.
Davaro-Comas, who immigrated from Argentina and now resides in New York State, said the Familias series enabled him to process some of his childhood experiences, when he felt he was caught between two different worlds. Young immigrants, he said, are often cast into the critical role of translating signs, grocery store labels, customs and event jokes for their non-English-speaking parents because children can absorb new languages faster.
“Presented in an approachable style of cool and youthful graffiti art, with tattooed characters styled in trendy streetwear, the messages in Ramiro’s work lie much deeper than the spray-painted surfaces,” AMA Director of Curatorial Affairs Katie Dillard said. “This is a narrative of a lifetime of human experiences the artist is sharing with us.
“Landscapes of unknown, often-blurred environments embody Ramiro’s message of immigrants coming into unfamiliar places, and contain vulnerable characters trying to fit in with the rest of us, but still stand out so uniquely. After viewing these characters and the different journeys they embark on, audiences can’t help but grow fond of them, and their Felix the Cat-eqsue masked faces start to appear normal.”
The figures in his work, all painted in three-quarter or profile view, “are focused on what lies ahead, needing that forward momentum to journey into new lives in foreign lands,” Davaro-Comas said. “The families in the series are painted as happy and hopeful, as my childhood immigrant experience to this country was generally pleasant. Yet there was always an underlying sense of loss, a feeling that connects many immigrants regardless of our specific experiences.
“My characters contain visual cues to represent some of this inner conflict. As migrants, especially as children, we know our difference can be used against us, so we don masks in order to fit into our new worlds. We must learn a new language and culture, with the expectation that the process be seamless.”
Davaro-Comas has a background in public art and artist residency management. His passions for painting, storytelling, and community work have pushed him to travel throughout his career, collaborating with artists around the world. After studying Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, serving a year in Holyoke with Americorps, he was invited in 2012 to participate in a collection of international and U.S. artist residency programs, taking him to Berlin, Amsterdam, and Barcelona, upstate New York and Providence, R.I. He began working full-time as an artist and moved to Brooklyn, straddling the line between fine art and illustration. His work as a muralist has brought him to both small towns and large cities.
In 2016, he launched Dripped on the Road, the only traveling artist residency program for muralists in the U.S. From 2016-2022, the program worked with over 30 artists, painting over 150 murals throughout the East Coast of the United States. He currently co-directs Super-Stories, a non-profit arts education organization in upstate New York with his partner, Grace Lang, and consults on public art projects, collaborates with skate shops, paints murals, and creates work for gallery exhibitions.