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Cosmos Marinas by Roberto Orán

Grand Lobby

Artist Statement:

The theme “Cosmos Marinus” represents the beauty and harmony of marine life. I view myself as a painter and sculptor rather than a potter. However, in the last couple of years, I have enjoyed experimenting with clay. 

The idea behind these creatures is to create a conscious awareness about our marine ecosystem, which is at risk of extinction due to pollution and overfishing. We may not have the opportunity to discover all species in the oceans, but in this exhibit, I hope you feel that you are a critical part of the marine ecosystem.

My first contact with clay was at a young age when I saw my grandparents handmade their “comales.” Comal is a large circular disc of curated clay use, mostly in the small rural communities in Oaxaca and other Mexican southern states, for cooking tortillas.  Other than that, I have never had the opportunity to work with clay at all.   

During this yearlong project, my objective was to experiment with recycled clay material. The process was exhausting yet exciting.  My project began by collecting and cleaning the recycled clay, leftovers clay from the Chemeketa Community College ceramic classes. It took several months to collect enough clay to create the pieces you see around you.  As I was creating these pieces, I had to work fast and steady; recycled clay tends to dry faster as the particles are not entirely dissolved as with new and fresh clay.

Most of the exciting pieces that I made during the summer of 2018 did not make it.  I was trying to achieve something new such as creating tall and thin structures; many small marine species are large with delicate and elongated fins, tails, and physique structures.  Obviously, my technical novice working with clay took the best of the recycled material and me. One of the biggest obstacles to working with clay was gravity. The bigger pieces were the most likely to collapse during the creation or the curation process. However, I learned that the great clay masters learned, first, to be patient, and last, to have perseverance; without these skills, you are risking your sanity and the work at hand.  In other words, I pushed my abilities and resiliency to create ceramic pieces that represent my passion for protecting marine life. I ask you to enjoy this work and support the marine ecosystem preservation efforts.  

Most of the pieces on display are actual species; none of the pieces were copied from any marine source. 

The title “Microsmus Marinus” is in reference from the famous Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus.  Linnaeus is credited with the modern system of binomial nomenclature as a way of naming living organisms.

-Roberto Oran, September 2019

Artist Biography

Roberto Orán was born in a small village in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. As a child, he liked to draw, but unfortunately, his parents could not afford to buy him a sketch pad or paints. He and his siblings even had to share pencils. The only way for him to draw was inside his head, with his imagination.

During a school’s field trip while attending middle school, he was exposed to murals in Tlaxcala and Guadalajara crafted by famous Mexicans artists. Hegreatly admired the enormity of the murals, both in physical size, as well as the number of humans represented within.  This exposure to contemporary art inspired him to dedicate himself to create his own artwork.

He came to study in the US when he was 16 years old. While attending West Salem High School, his ceramics teacher Brenda Hauswirth discovered his passion for the visual arts; painting, drawings, and clay work, and she began to nurture his talent.  The support of this educator catalyzed him to explore his passion for art in a new, dynamic way.  

He began to submit his paintings and drawings to local and state art competitions.  For different situations, not many Latino artists submitted their artwork. Even though he was proud to participate as the only representative of the Mexican community, he was also concerned.  It was during this time that he realized that art galleries lacked artwork representing the diverse populations and their experiences. He decided to change his emphasis and became more outspoken for art outlets to share the artistic values of Latinos living in the Willamette Valley.  Most of his work is a dedication to the culture, the art, and the experiences of the Latinos in Oregon. 

Presently Orán is promoting his yearlong project in clay under the theme: “Cosmos Marinus,” which represents the beauty and harmony of marine life and its preservation.   Past projects included: resident artist for the Salem Art Association, and presiding as a master artist to oversee a mural wrapping around XICHA Brewery building on the meaning of being American and the Latino leadership in the Willamette Valley.   

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Join us for an artist reception on October 4th, 5:00-8:00pm