Esmeralda Rivera Ruiz

Country: Costa Rica

Title:  Una morena fumándose un cigarillo / A Brown Woman Smoking a Cigarette

Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Size: 23" x 16"

The World's Women On-Line!

Ruiz is one of six members of Corazones Valientes (Valiant Hearts), a women's folk-art cooperative from Costa Rica. All of the women live in La Unión de Monterrey, a small agricultural village in the north-central part of the country. They develop their own designs and paint them with acrylic and watercolor on paper and on hand-carved cedar trays. The group started as a drawing class in May 1991 when Rebecca Hart, a Peace Corps volunteer, responded to requests from the women to teach them how to draw. The goal of the course was to engage the world around them through their art. They began by drawing familiar things in their lives-- their bedrooms, kitchens, houses, families. Then they worked on composition, learning to combine their simple, separate drawings to make more complex works. After five months they began painting and incorporating color. By January 1992, they were selling paintings to various galleries in San José, Costa Rica. The art they create deals with their everyday lives, traditions, customs, work, recreation, history, myths, and dreams. The women of Corazones Valientes are now part of a movement of Costa Ricans to recognize the uniqueness of their country and preserve it through developing their own expression.

Ruiz is in her early twenties. She is the second youngest of ten children. She was raised mostly by her mother who died in 1991 and left her the small farm on which she now lives. She has used money from her painting to invest in cattle, pay her daily living expenses, and build a new house with her boyfriend. She actually had not taken the group and her art seriously until one day in 1992, when her boyfriend told her that she had better start to work hard at painting or stop altogether. At this point, she decided to apply herself and started to create amazing work. Her paintings are humorous, vivacious, and sensual, as done with wonderful craftsmanship. In 1999, she began working with a women's group in a neighboring village in developing their painting skills.

Corazones Valientes' selected exhibitions include: La Mama La Galeria, New York, 1999; St. John the Divine, New York, 1998; Elsa Mott Gallery: YWCA, New York, 1998; Right Brain Gallery, Atlanta Georgia, 1998; Folk Fest '97, Atlanta, 1997; Casa de la Cultural Popular José Figueres, Costa Rica, 1997; Centro Cultural Managua, Managua, Nicaragua, 1996; Schattam Gallery, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 1996; Casa Cultural Julia de Burgos, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1995; Unity Church Art Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1994; Maya's Room in Silliman College, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1994; First Congregational Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1993; Northfield Arts Guild, Northfield, Minnesota, 1993; Anne Harper Gallery, Amagansett, New York, 1993; Festival of Nations, St. Paul Civic Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1993; Janet Wallace Gallery, Macalester College, St. Paul, 1993; and Costa Rican Independence Day Special Celebration, Ordway Theater, St. Paul, 1992.
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