This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Doraelia Ruiz.


What are you trying to communicate with your work?

Wow this question, for me, is really loaded. As an artist I try my best to communicate my experience as a human being living in this time and age. I’ve done work about everything from heartbreak to social class to mass commercialization—you name it. In the end I always work from a place of passion. What might make me passionate today might make me apathetic tomorrow. My paintings can sometimes “die out” because I look at them and only see that moment in time. Like looking at an old photograph of yourself: you know it’s you but sometimes it’s unrecognizable.



What is an artist’s responsibility?

I don’t think an artist has a responsibility to anyone but themself. The idea of “responsibility” stopped me from being an artist for many years. It really isn’t every parent’s dream for their child to become a starving painter living in a tiny studio in Hollywood. I believed I owed the opportunities I was given at Brown to pursue a more steady career. I realized years later I put those responsibilities on myself, needlessly. So I am not much of a believer in responsibility. Art is an incredibly selfish profession and it needs to be; you should never do art for anyone but yourself. So I guess if an artist has any responsibility, it is to make sure they are being true to themself. That’s the only way any authentic work can be made.

Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?



Probably the installation for my MFA thesis show. In the weeks leading up to the show, I worked harder than I ever have before and became addicted to the drama of it. I was able to splurge on materials and make the large-scale works I have always wanted. Together with my father, his girlfriend, and my best friend we installed the show in a way we felt was perfect. The result was a fantastic failure. The installation infuriated my core faculty who felt the layout undermined the work. I spent the hours before my opening arguing tooth and nail for my vision. They asked me to change the installation one hour before opening, and they weren’t sure they were going to sign off on my thesis. I was shell-shocked. When it came time for my opening talk, I hadn’t even had any time to prepare. I barely had time to get dressed after the arguing had extended into hours. So I walked up and I gave the most passionate and driven talk about what that show meant to me. I wouldn’t have been able to really know what my work meant, what my installation meant, or what I meant as an artist had I not had that terrible crit right before. I am still really proud of that epic failure.

Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:

Never say never! Seriously though, there’s nothing that I haven’t thought about that I would resign to say it would never happen. Finances change, technology changes, personal interests change. I am living in a reality I once thought would “never” happen.



Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?

I can’t say for sure you wont know them but:

Tameka Jenean Norris is an amazing artist working around concepts of race, class, and education. She uses almost any medium. When I am sad, and often when I was abroad for my work and lonely, I would listen to her album Ivy League Ratchet, and lyrics like “I’m so strong, I’m all alone” and “can’t shit on my dreams cuz I got a yale degree” really resonated with me. I love how she embraces both the worlds of being low-income and being an Ivy League graduate openly. 

Megan St. Clair is a wonderful mixed media artist I met in grad school. I saw Megan’s path differ from mine: she came in as a conceptual artist and left grad school with a messy painter’s studio. I saw her just give in to her passion and voice as an artist and release any preconceived notions of “should.” Megan now runs Softcore LA, a pop-up gallery for emerging artists, and has written for Hyperallergic, Fresh Paint Magazine, and more. She is one of the hardest working, most ethical, and talented artists I know. I am definitely extremely proud to be in her cohort. She is one of the few artists that make me continue to believe in art.

Sally Bruno was a year ahead of me in graduate school and is one of the best painters I have ever met. The photos of her work do not do justice to their texture and flow of color. It’s as if they freeze solid while turning 3D and the colors just mind-glowingly blend, flow, and fight together in the most nonsensical ways. 


—The ArtSlant Team

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(All images: Courtesy of Doraelia Ruiz)

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