The Inspirational Art of Andrea Arroyo

When looking at her art, award-winning artist Andrea Arroyo wants you to see something new glowing from within about the women she names her work after: A love for the poder of mujeres.

Ten years ago, Arroyo started painting on canvas for her “Flor de Vida” series, which elevates mythological women -- ranging from classic bad girls like La Malinche and Cleopatra to goddesses like Athena -- to sacred status.

Arroyo never wondered whether she could be successful: She just started making work. As a professional dancer who moved to New York from Mexico City in 1983, she decided one day that she wanted to be an artist. “I started with a series of small-scale painted sculptures of unique NYC characters that caught my attention, including street scenes featuring a shopping-bag lady, a punk kid, a break dancer,” says Arroyo. “They were done in clay, wood, plaster and other mixed media. As a dancer, I felt very comfortable and familiar with the human form in 3-D.” Buyers immediately responded to her familiar, relatable style and haven’t stopped since.

Four years ago, she started creating the simple white drawings on black paper for her “Flor de Tierra, Homage to the Women of Juarez” project. “I wanted to underline the concept that the life of all women is equally precious, and especially to remember a life cut short by violence could have been one of a brilliant poet, visionary or Queen.”

Select paintings from “Flor de Vida” and drawings “Flor de Tierra” are on display at the Treasure Room Gallery in New York City, as part of her “Eternal” exhibit, through Sept. 2, 2011.

by Michelle Herrera Mulligan