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UTEP alum finds inspiration in found objects

Michaela Roman
Junior Mulitidisciplinary Studies major Rebecca Portillo explores Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s exhibit at the Rubin center for the Visual Arts.

With the help of many artistic students from the university, it is becoming a tradition for the community to showcase artistic structures all over town. Over the last several years, the city has been developing its artistic reputation.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda has become popular through his artistic sculptures that have been showcased worldwide. He has been able to express his imagination through materials we observe on a daily basis.

“I’ve always been handy in a way, I find it so fascinating how you can create something with your own hands,” Pereda said.

Pereda graduated from UTEP in 2005. After taking a semester of communication classes, he realized that wasn’t the route for him. Pereda started to get involved in art classes. One in particular was a sculpture class, which is where he met a professor who encouraged him to apply for an open call and showcase his sculpture at an exhibition in Maine. While in school, Pereda got accepted for the call and made his way to Skowhegan, Maine, one of the top residencies for art programs, to showcase his piece, which was made out of 18-wheeler tire tubes.

“It was amazing because everyone there was finishing their master’s or was a professional artist, and I was there just like a kid doing stuff,” Pereda said. “I realized this was serious, so when I came back I pushed myself to do even better.”

During the time Pereda was at the university, he came across an abandoned building on campus just behind the Fox Fine Arts Complex, now called the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. The building had been deserted for 20 years, and the desks, pencils and notes were still in the same place as they were before. Art students at the time used this building to work on their art pieces.

“Friends and I sneaked in the building at night,” Pereda said. “It was something–like someone just ran out of there left everything in place.”

Once she found out that the building was being used as an artistic get away for students, Kerry Doyle, now the center’s director, decided the building should be turned into a center for visual arts. Pereda and other art students, along with construction workers, started tearing down the walls and began remodeling the building into what it is today.

Doyle expressed the excitement over Almanza’s return to campus.

“We have been pleased to watch Alejandro’s career develop over the years, and have been looking for the chance to invite him to exhibit his work at the Rubin Gallery,” Doyle said.  UTEP’s Centennial celebrations provided a special opportunity to not only showcase the work of a great contemporary artist, but to connect that work to the UTEP Art Department, and to highlight the success of one of our own alumni.”

Pereda’s artistic work deals with the relationship people have with objects, the architecture of buildings and the law of physics.

“Sometimes I place really heavy things on top of pretty fragile ones, but then you realize, hmm maybe those fragile ones are not so fragile, so I kind of challenge the perception we have of certain things and objects,” Pereda said.

Each sculpture Pereda showcases deals with the title of the exhibition. For each country he visits, the majority of the time Pereda displays a distinctive figure. He uses materials that are found and starts his process from  scratch.

“They fly me (in) before so I can have time to find things I need for the sculptures and come up with something,” Pereda said.

For this upcoming show at the Rubin Center, Pereda, along with students from the sculpture area of the university, have been invited to showcase how people perceive architecture. He will be building a container that will reflect the force of keeping all things together, and the relationship of containers and the content. Pereda said this is a way he can communicate with the public .

“I think as an artist you have to challenge different aspects,” Pereda said. “You can reflect on it and communicate to other people–that to me is being an artist.”

His artwork has been showcased in Germany, Brazil, Russia, Italy and Mexico. However, he said he spends more of his time at his home, which is in Brooklyn, New York.

Several UTEP students are looking forward to seeing his sculptures on campus. Nicolle Ramirez, a freshman communication major who loves art and enjoys painting, said she is excited to see Pereda’s sculptures.

“It’s impressive to know such a big artist graduated from UTEP,” Ramirez said. “It makes me feel like it’s something very important.”

For Carlos Robledo, freshman business major, it was a surprise when he found out that Pereda would be showcasing his work at UTEP and of how well known the artist was internationally.

“That’s overwhelmingly awesome,” Robledo said. “It shows UTEP students that they can make a name for themselves and can travel around the world and showcase their projects.”

Pereda said he felt humbled to be back at the university that helped him kick off his career. He is thrilled to showcase his art with current art students. Pereda advises art students who want to follow in his footsteps to start building a strong portfolio in order to be eligible to get into programs and even get the chance to get into exhibitions.

“You need to work twice as much to create your own work, you need to fulfill the class requirements and also wok double,” he said. “I’ve been successful and lucky to show my work. After 10 years, I am here again, so it’s fun.”

The sculptures are being showcased at the Rubin Center until the beginning of November.

For more information, call the Rubin Center at 915-747-6151 or email [email protected]

Kimberly Valle may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michaela Roman
Michaela Roman, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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UTEP alum finds inspiration in found objects