From Skates to Museums
I always drew pictures, but around the slums, an artist was an actor on the evening soaps on TV. In 2011, I enrolled in the Design Visual Communications program. I wanted to become a professional so I could promote street skating culture. But the program exposed me to much more than industrial drawing and I became aware of what a plastic artist was. Since that blooming, I was able to look retroactively and identify much of what I had been doing as art, like the works with video and photography I used to make to promote my career as a skater. Skating was also an artistic activity.
From the Alleyways of the Slums to the Halls of the Elite
I studied on full scholarship at PUC-Rio, an elite university. Most of the time, I was the only black student in the classroom. Of course, our body, our presence, alters the environment and brings feelings and responses, but in college I didn’t think much about those things; debates about identity weren’t that heated yet. It was during college that I really came to know myself and I accepted myself as black and I came to feel immense pride of my community. As I was finishing my degree in 2016, I began a process of repatriation. I started walking barefoot as a way to speed up my return home, to Rocinha, I tried to change my routine again to readapt. I went out dancing. I played soccer with my childhood friends, but it was awkward, because everyone noticed that I was no longer the same. To make matters worse, I had no future perspective and at the same time I didn’t really like the idea of a formal job. Expectations at home were high. Particularly, because I was making abstract art. I spent the day scribbling on paper, imagine: almost thirty years old scribbling on paper, in the slums! The expectation was: now that you’ve graduated, now go develop yourself. But I went in as a designer and I came out an artist! For most people, I was a vagabond. I was always very focused. I was committed to my artistic research, and I took a risk.