How was it growing up in Harlem with parents from the Dominican Republic in that era of change for America?
It was like I was living in two worlds: you have the ‘System Americano’ – “Gringo go home!” was what people would say to me so in New York I would speak English and be American outside of the house, but inside it was totally Latin, speaking Spanish. So I had this double culture, which I really tried to reject at first, I wanted to be as American as I could be, but today when people ask me where I come from I would say I was Dominican and I grew up in New York. Being Dominican, brown-skinned, it allowed me to travel and take in so many cultures, which I think shows in my art. It’s ‘multicolore’, very Latino.
How do you find being a Dominican-American artist in the current political climate?
Doing this Hennessy tour right now, which has been going on for 3 months, it’s been crazy because so many things that have been happening in the world. Puerto Rico, Donald Trump, North Korea – all the political disasters possible. But bad politics have been there throughout my time, so I’m now interested in celebrating the current moment and bringing appreciation to life, I guess because my art is so personal. Currently, I work with an association that aids homelessness, which is a cause very close to my heart because I think, well that could’ve been me.