Born in Washington Heights (upper Manhattan), I
attended Fiorello H. La Guardia H.S. of
Music and Art & Performing Arts as an art major. I later earned a BA in Studio Art from Hunter College in 2008 and a MA in Art Education at The City College of New York in 2014.
I also worked as a teaching artist for over 10 years in afterschool programs and day camps in New York City and am currently working as a high school art teacher for a charter school in the South Bronx.

My art is a reflection of the vibrant and diverse cultures that make up New York City and my Borikua/Puerto Rican heritage. I seek to explore the connections between the histories and traditions of these two communities, and the complex identities that emerge when they intersect.

My artwork draws on the rich colors, textures, and patterns of these two distinct cultures, blending them together in surprising and unexpected ways. Through my art, I seek to celebrate the unique perspectives and voices of both communities, and to create a space where people from all backgrounds can come together and connect.

For me, Indigenous art is a means of reclaiming our cultural heritage and celebrating the resilience and strength of our communities. Through my artwork, I hope to challenge dominant narratives and create a space for dialogue and reflection on issues of identity, representation, and power.

Ultimately, my art is a reflection of my own personal journey as a Nuyorican (New Yorker of Borikua heritage) living in a dynamic and constantly changing environment. It is my hope that my work can inspire others to connect with their own cultural identities, and to embrace the richness and diversity of the world around us.

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Instagram: @tainoart
Facebook: Velez Visual Arts

Rafael Vélez, Jr.