Wilay Méndez uses his artwork to interrogate, reflect and question the reality and the socio-historical context in which he lives. The imagery that composes his work relies on aesthetic cues from the Afro-Cuban experience and a critical view of contemporary society’s successes and oversights. His new show Nichos is up at ArtXchange in Seattle until the end of July.

“I’ve lived in fear of conflict since my childhood in the 1980s. Fear of the Cold War, the social and political manipulation in Cuba since that time, and fear of future conflict between Russia and the United States. These conflicts, rooted in previous generations, seem so archaic and obsolete, yet continue to dominate the media and our imaginations. The Nichos series is a confrontation of these fears that affect me and so many in our world. I don’t know what will happen now, but I continue to create art to speak to the people of today and the next generation.”

Wilay creates his sculptural work from found materials - recovered, discarded and decomposed – including metal, wood, stone, jute, transistors, nylon and molten plastic, debris and chipped layers of paintings from the crumbling city walls. The rust and impurities enhance the meaning, acting as a cartography of the concepts that underlie the visual.

The expressiveness of his work and the symbolism of the chosen materials create a dialogue about time and the flow of life and death, a theme present in the religious and daily thought of African and African-Cuban cultures. Wilay’s artwork provokes looking and understanding the world, its natural rhythms and its man-made crisis’ from the perspective of our human nature.