Welcome to my blog! Visit my Website at WWW.ARTBYTANYATORRES.COM to see the galleries organized by theme.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Did you see my fashion designs?

Here is my shop at VIDA, where you can see all the Spirit of the Forest fashions. 

Black Friday only: 40% off! 

Note: They take a long time to arrive, they may not get to you on time for Christmas. 
Also, I have samples to see and try. Come by if you are in NYC and visit

Monday, November 07, 2016

Grand Opening!

I have been busy these past weeks making a new space ready for a new project. I now have a studio-store at La Marqueta!

This project began with a group of "artisan squatters" at the site. In popular memory La Marqueta is the place where people used to go shopping for traditional Puerto Rican foods and other special items. In time, the market became smaller and smaller and almost disappeared. Politicians and concerned citizens have been trying to keep it alive all these years by reconstructing it, and bringing in new businesses. It now works as a sort of business incubator, but there are also long-time vendors selling the traditional foods of the Caribbean. My friend Mercedes, who knows the people in charge of making La Marqueta a lively place again, especially Melissa Mark-Viverito and the La Marqueta Retoña project, managed to "squat" on two spaces with other artisans. It became a more formal arrangement and now a corporation named Acacia pays for the 2 spaces and 4 artists are allowed to set up shop for free as a way of embellishing and improving the space. 

When one of the artisans left and another was evicted, Mercedes invited me to join the space. I suggested we invite my friend and partner in many projects Yarisa Colón, and we got to work. 

The space is now pretty and ready to open! I set up my tile painting studio there and spend most afternoons painting and meeting with people. Or decorating ;)

This Thursday, we are doing the "Grand Opening" together with Mercedes Molina, who is a doll maker, and Carmen Ayala, a painter, and you are invited if you are in NY! Come by and see the stores-studios!

La Marqueta
115 Street and Park Avenue
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
6-9 p.m.
Enjoy a wine and Cheese reception, Puerto Rican Appetizers by Maruka, and delicious cupcakes by Sprinkle Splash!

***Thanks to Melissa Mark-Viverito & La Marqueta Retoña for making this project possible.***

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I See Angels

I See Angels
 by Tanya Torres  
Oil on Canvas, 48” x 36”, 2016.

I am getting ready for a one day event and exhibition this Friday with a group I belong to called "7 mujeres en movimiento," or "Seven Women in Movement." The exhibition is titled My Art, My Spirit.  (Here is your invitation!)

I am bringing Mary Magdalene of the Bees, Emergence and this painting, titled I See Angels. This is the writing that will accompany the piece:

When  I was 23 I had a friend who believed in angels. She also believed in fairies and all the beings of a spiritual world I couldn’t see. I still can’t see or believe the way other people believe. Yet I have many times felt the bliss and the joy of being in communion with that invisible world that most people insist on describing with anthropomorphic images and concepts.

I See Angels is a painting about that abstract experience of joy and communion. An experience that is felt, and hopefully, not preached about ordescribed in words. It is personal and mystical. It is a work of the imagination. 

And Imagination is truly what I believe in. I believe in creating our own path, our own joy, our own image of the Divine. I believe in the energy that envelopes all that we see and feel, and I believe in the active participation and creation of the spiritual world by the Human mind. I believe in freedom, and in free will, and that color and the act of creation are a medium through which we can transmit our prayers to the Universe and to the hearts of other human beings.

I also believe that you should not believe what I believe. So this painting is really about whatever you see and feel and experience when you encounter it. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hoy, artista: Thoughts on Starting Your Career as an Artist

Camille Rivera, Melodie Roldán and Antonia L. Martínez Gavarrete, a group of talented art students at Universidad Interamericana of San Germán. Next to them, a young helper and Waldemar Mercado Ferreira, my "bff" since we were 8 years old, painting the mural in February 2016.

There are very few things that I enjoy more than helping other people realize their dreams...

New Jewelry

These are some new pieces I have added to my new jewelry collection.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sunflower Spirit

Sunflower Spirit by Tanya Torres, Oil on Canvas, 72" x 36", 2016.

I've been challenging myself to paint bigger, which is not easy for me! This painting is actually taller than me...

I call the paintings in this series Spirits of the Forest, although Emergencein my mind, is more a spirit of the water. But most of the paintings I have created in this style are full of leaves and earth, and now a giant sunflower.

Unexpected Connections

My friend Veronica de Nadie recently visited me after 10 years away from N.Y.C.  She is my beloved friend and poet from the times of Mixta Gallery. We connected through our kids, who met playing in the sandbox at Central Park. I wasn't there, but my mother in law, Doña Ramona, told her that she would like to meet me.

One day Veronica showed up at the gallery, and she asked if I needed help. I'm not sure I even knew her name at this point, but I told her yes, I would love some help, and to go upstairs to my apartment and bring down a chair or two. A regular person would have thought I was some crazy lady, which I probably was, but Veronica loved it, and that night she made her debut as a poet in the Spanish Poetry Night and it was the beginning of our friendship.

She had to leave back to Ecuador, and we didn't see each other for 10 years. But she finally visited this June, with her beautiful daughter Irina, all grown up like my son Julian, and we went down memory lane with our now college-student kids. We couldn't get over seeing them together, enlarged, so intensely beautiful. We visited the sandbox to memorialize and honor that grand moment in time when our babies brought us together (and took a picture of Irina and Julian in front of the sandbox!,) and spent several days being our old selves again.

She reminded me of so many feelings I had put away so as not to suffer her absence too greatly: it is not every day that you meet an extraordinary friend that is just right for you. She also reminded me that true love and true friendship have no time or space limits.

Veronica told me that she recently visited Cuba, and that there she encountered the Yoruba goddess Oshun, whose attribute flower is the sunflower.
"Oshun is a deity of the river and fresh water, luxury and pleasure, sexuality and fertility, and beauty and love.[1][2] She is connected to destiny and divination.[3]" From Wikipedia
I don't know a lot about Santeria or the African religions, but was glad that there is a connection to Oshun, whose color is yellow (a color that for me represents wisdom, as in the Magdalene color palette.) 

It is interesting to me that Oshun is a water goddess, a river goddess. I am from an island, but not really from the sea. My image of paradise includes this river:

This is the Salto Curet in Las Marías, and it holds up there at the top of the waterfall the scariest, most exciting moment of my life, when my friend Daisy and I decided to follow the lead of our local friends and climb the mountain to reach the top of the waterfall. We do things like that when we are 20 years old...

It looks small here, but we had to climb on roots and wet red earth, and then hug a slippery stone to cross to the other side. If things had not been successful, I would not be telling this story right now. Our friends happened to be exploring the Santeria religion at the time (and I never thought about that until writing this...) It may be that Oshun was with me after all...

I guess these are the connections that an artist makes in her mind and psyche by perceiving and absorbing all that is within and all that is around. 

Sunflower Spirit, as the other Spirits of the Forest, is the synthesis of an idea of Paradise that I carry within me. For my ancestors, the Taínos, the first beings we tree-like and had no sex. A bird (like a woodpecker) carved the sex of woman with its beak. They inhabited landscapes like the one about and their spirit remains and grows in the flora and the fauna, and even the imported species brought by history, invasions and the embrace of the outside world, including Oshun and all the Yoruba pantheon, and the beautiful sunflowers that make me so happy anytime I see them in the Mexican flower shops of my Barrio.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Great History's Goddess

The Great History's Goddess by Tanya Torres, Oil on Canvas, 40" x 72", 2016.
When my son was little, he invented The Great History's Goddess. Since he had already declared himself an atheist, it was meant as a taunt to his mom and her spiritual inclinations. But I thought it was wonderful: A goddess who was a pure product of his young mind and that could mean anything we wanted her to mean! So at night, when he was anxious about the next day in school, we would say a prayer to The Great History's Goddess: "Tomorrow will be a great day! Tomorrow will be a great day! Tomorrow will be a great day!!!" (In order for this prayer to work, you must repeat it louder each time, until you are screaming.)

I soon began saying "Oh Great History's Goddess, help me!" (With a smile on my lips, of course!) My nephew Jean Carlos would say, "That's not a real goddess!" and I would say, "Of course she is, Julian invented her!"

Then, so many years later, I finished this painting, the largest I have painted on canvas to date, and in the beginning she was just a woman, but by the time I finished it, I had already begun work on a new series of paintings I call the Spirits of the Forest. And they are the spirits that dwell in the rainforest of my ancestral land.

And the great lady began taking on the roots and the veins of water that these beings possess, and her hair started flowing into a cascade of green. She became the mother of those spirits that dwell in my imagination.

Nowadays it is very hard to get a smile out of my wonderful teenage son, who continues to taunt me. But this painting did make him smile. He even said he liked it! I think he, by now, realizes that his mom is a very different kind of "believer". I believe in the imagination.

So the Great History's Goddess is real and magical, and here she is, big, bright, and full of life.

Available in my website store. 

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Sacred Woman

Sacred Woman, Oil on Canvas, 10" x 8", 2016.
There are so many aspects to Mary Magdalene. Sacred Woman refers to the Magdalene who was turned into a prostitute and who reemerges in the imagination as the embodiment of holiness, including the sexual aspect. This is one of the new pieces exhibited on July 22 at the Mary Magdalene Celebration. Listed in my website store.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Magdalene Fair

I was afraid I didn't have any images of the wonderful creations that my guest creators displayed at the Magdalene Fair of the Mary Magdalene Celebration, but fortunately, my young friend Taína del Mar was in charge of broadcasting through Periscope and she made several videos of the Celebration. Here is the one that showcases all the participants in the fair. To see them all, find us as @magdalene_org in Periscope and Twitter!

Here are some images of the Magdalene Fair at the Mary Magdalene Celebration:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dancing with Mary Magdalene

The Mary Magdalene Celebration culminated in a dance by all the guests who felt inspired to dance! This video by Melissa Coss Aquino shows the beauty and energy of this special moment.

There were so many reasons for organizing the Mary Magdalene Celebration. This post would be too long if I were to mention them. The main reason was that Raquel Z. Rivera and I have been doing this event in different forms for about 10 years now, and I felt inspired to share this passion of ours one more time, one bigger time.

I was also feeling what other people who offer a promesa feel: the need for change, the gratitude for graces received, the inspiration for creating something beautiful. It took a year and help from many friends to conceive it, create all that it encompassed, and put all the pieces together.

One of my main goals was to work with other people. I had almost forgotten how pleasurable it is to share a big moment with other creative souls. And now I remember clearly, because as the day approached, the guests arrived, and the event came together, the flowing movement during the last 3 hours of preparation became proof that it is possible to experience harmony at a time that has the greatest potential for caos. A small army of friends came to help at 3:00 p.m., and by 5:00 p.m. we were done with the art exhibition, the food, the tables and most of the preparations. The doors were to open at 6:00 p.m. and we were ready early!

I had decided that it would not be perfect, but it would be beautiful. That was the goal and we accomplished it. The space was transformed with art, song, crafts, paper flowers and lots of dance.

The performances began with something I was wishing for but was afraid to announce since I was not sure if it would happen. I had invited a group of women from the now closed Holy Rosary Church in my neighborhood, beloved people who always transported me back to my childhood when I heard them sing. They are not a choir or anything like that. They are the older women of the church, whom I met around 2010, and who gave me so much love I can't even describe it. I asked one of them, Sara, if she would bring a few of the others to sing a song to Mary. It didn't matter to me which Mary. Because it all has to start somewhere. It was beautiful because they sang their hymn in Spanish, and soon everyone was singing with them, because most people there knew the song. "Ven con nosotros a caminar, Santa María ven..." Come walk with us, Saint Mary, come walk with us. It was a perfect, beautiful beginning for our promesa.

The performances followed, framed by 3 different kinds of dance: a meditation dance by Corazón Tierra, a dance-theater piece by Xiomara Evans and Marni Rice, and Bomba dance by Alexandra Vasallo.

Video by Jorge Latorre

Raquel Z. Rivera and Ojos de Sofía sang the seven songs, I lighted the candles at the altar, and finally, Alexandra came in to dance. I don't know how old she is, just that she has been dancing all her life.

Video by Ana Alicea

 During the last song, I called all the dancers to the center and they danced some more.

Video by Jorge Latorre

And then, women danced in a circle, and then everybody danced.

Video by Olga Ayala

We danced with Mary Magdalene. And the joy was so great that all who were present went home a little bit different than when they arrived.

(Photos coming soon in the next post.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Join the Mary Magdalene Celebration!

A Creative Feast in Honor of Mary Magdalene
A Saint for Those Who Believe in the Redeeming Quality of the Creative Act


Raquel Z. Rivera will come from Albuquerque New Mexico to sing.

This July 22, 6:00-9:00 p.m., at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center in East Harlem, NYC, there will be a peculiar gathering. Artist Tanya Torres and musician Raquel Z. Rivera, together with artists from many other disciplines, will come together to celebrate in honor of Mary Magdalene, "Our Lady of Lexington, Patroness of all faithful creative ones who don't believe in anything, but believe in the redeeming quality of the creative act." The Mary Magdalene Celebration is a free event and open to all who love Mary Magdalene or would like to know her.

Mary Magdalene has been an inspiration for Tanya and Raquel for more than a decade, and every few years, they come together to sing Las 7 salves de La Magdalena / 7 Songs of Praise for the Magdalene in honor of the mythical Mary Magdalene. The Celebration consists of an art exhibition of the paintings of Tanya Torres and a performance of the songs by Raquel Z. Rivera. This year, dancer Corazon Tierra, dance-theater performers Xiomara Evans and Marni Rice, bomba dancer Alexandra Vasallo as well as many other artisans, writers and visual artists will be joining with artwork and performances dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

The Celebration takes the form of a traditional Puerto Rican promesa and the songs are performed "promesa-style," with the voices, bodies and joy of everybody present. A promesa is a traditional offering to a saint where people gather to honor that saint through prayer and song. At the Mary Magdalene Celebration the offerings are the artistic creations of the participants, but to keep up with tradition, refreshments will be served.

The artists go beyond the most traditional interpretations of the Biblical Mary Magdalene to explore in art, dance, word and song this Christian character that has emerged in the 21st century as the most accomplished disciple of Jesus Christ, Apostle to the Apostles, priestess, mother, the Goddess in Christianity, and a constant guiding presence for the leading artists.

Although the Mary Magdalene Celebration has been taking place since 2005 in different places and formats, this year the Catholic Pope Francis declared July 22 a Feast Day for the Catholic Church, which imparts a special significance to this year’s Celebration.

To join the Mary Magdalene Celebration, please visit Magdalene.org and sign up for updates and RSVP.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mary Magdalene Celebration: Marta Rodríguez Olmeda and Bárbara M. Díaz López

These beautiful traditional "santos de palo" of Puerto Rico were made especially for the Mary Magdalene Celebration: Magdalene Fair by artisans Marta Rodríguez Olmeda and Bárbara M. Díaz López.
When I was just dreaming this year's Mary Magdalene Celebration, I was hoping Marta Rodríguez Olmeda and Bárbara M. Díaz López would be able to join. I have loved their carved saints since I first saw them!

Through the years, we have been tent partners at many events, and little by little, I have enjoyed seeing them work the traditional Puerto Rican craft of saint carving. Bárbara was her apprentice at the time when I met them, but she is already carving her own saints. I have also loved listening to Marta's wisdom about her creations. One of the things I've learned is that Marta prays as she creates each piece, as is required by the tradition. They also use traditional woods from Puerto Rico.

I feel very fortunate that Marta and Bárbara are joining us with their beautiful saints for the Mary Magdalene Celebration on July 22. And when I saw these, I couldn't wait to share! If you need one, let me know and I will put you in touch with these wonderful artisans. I hope you enjoy this photo as much as I did when Marta shared it with me! Join the celebration at Magdalene.org!

p.s. Did you notice the heart!?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mary Magdalene Celebration: Special guests performing!

I met Xiomara and Marni, the creators of Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea, through Arelis Figueroa, one of the first people who supported this project when Raquel and I were just starting. Then a few months ago, they invited me to join them at La Maison d'Art in Harlem, where they presented Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea. It was amazing! These two ladies have constructed their own story about the Magdalene, using Bible references, text from the Gospel of Mary and their own interpretations of the life of Mary Magdalene to create a moving and colorful play, all to the sounds of Marni's accordion music compositions! Nothing beats a woman with an accordion! 

Xiomara's dance and powerful presence transports us to the times of the Magdalene in Magdala. With  minimal accessories and props, Xiomara  becomes Mary Magdalene and Marni becomes Martha, and they take us on a journey through the Magdalene's path.

On July 22, the Mary Magdalene Celebration welcomes and celebrates these wonderful women and the play they have created. Xiomara and Marni will present the first act of the play, a play I hope you will enjoy as a full work in the future. 

Join us on July 22 at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center to see the first act of Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea, and a full program of dance, song and art. RSVP at Magdalene.org

Here is your invitation, Please share and bring all your best friends!

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Mary Magdalene Celebration: You are invited!

Sometimes, when you realize your dreams, you also realize that you have no more clear dreams. I worked hard to liberate my time and life in order to be able to spend time making art, being a channel for whatever it was that I came to this world to do. And I am here, doing that. Life, the Universe, God, Love, has given me everything that I need.

But sometimes...  I can't find the will or the energy to start my day, and I get distracted with the chores of a common life. I have to stop myself from doing the dishes one more time and get to work!

The last two years have been a struggle because I now live in the same place where I work, and I miss the silence and the solitude that a separate space offers. But it was a decision, and I am sticking to it at least until I take a long trip around some other part of the world next year.

This year, however, to get myself on the right track and give myself a worthy goal to work on, I decided to celebrate the Promesa to the Magdalene, the Mary Magdalene Celebration. I convinced Raquel Z. Rivera to come all the way from Albuquerque and sing her beautiful songs. And I decided it was time to go bigger and invite other artists and artisans to join us. The event became a big dream, something to look forward to, something to craft as lovingly as you would craft a wedding or a quinceañera.

I also became my connection to the world. I have been in hiding for years now. Apart from people, form too much filling my life so that I can leave an empty space, big enough for art. The result is I have learned many things and improved in many ways, but I have also lost contact with the world and with people. I stopped writing, I stopped communicating. Even this blog has suffered. Today I realized I had not posted anything about the Mary Magdalene Celebration, which I have been working on since last year.

A little at a time, I have come back to myself. One  major goal was to join forces with others in order to make something bigger, to ask for help even when my impulse is to do it all, to expand the celebration and make it grow in joy, and fun. And with this in mind, I continued to recruit old friends and new, from different times of my life, with different skills and strengths, and asked them to contribute through those strengths a little of themselves to this celebration.

The event is taking shape. And I have realized another goal already: to publish a book with images of my Magdalene paintings and the writings about my journey with Mary Magdalene. I have already sent for a copy to revise, and have it printed in time for the event.

I also created the most beautiful invitation ever ;), a little altar with the image of Mary Magdalene of the Bees, the painting I created as this year's Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene of the Bees by Tanya Torres, Oil on Canvas, 40" x 30", 2016.
Mini Shrine Invitation (Mailed and given in hand)
Back of the mini shrine 

I created posters, lots of invitations, posts on Facebook, and new artwork to be presented that night. I am still working on the artwork and other pieces that with be part of the art exhibition and mini crafts fair on July 22 at 6:00 p.m.

A Promesa, or offering to a saint, includes food, and a friend, Judith Delerme, offered to donate the food so our guests can come straight from work and not worry about hunger! And today I recruited my mother in law, the famous Doña Ramona, who will also be cooking one of her popular dishes and supervising the distribution of food.

My friend Minerva obtained the space at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, another miracle of the Magdalene, because I had tried contacting the place many times without success. The Hispanic Federation let us use the space free thanks to Minerva and her commitment to making this event a success. She is the Artist Madrina (godmother) of the celebration!

My dear friend Yarisa Colón, the Poet Madrina, has been providing ongoing moral support and flower-making. We are creating an installation of red paper flowers where our guests will wear a red veil to take photos of themselves as the Magdalene. Yarisa will also be showing her beautiful collage creations. You must see them!

My beautiful friend Corazón Tierra, who has already graced us with her dance in a previous celebration, will be opening the space with a dance.

Two new friends, Xiomara Evans and Marni Rice will be presenting an act of their play, Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea. It is magnificent!

And Alexandra Vasallo will be dancing her ancestral bomba dance. And inviting everyone to join.

When you arrive you will be able to fill your heart with art, and many other wonderful things. Two artists are coming directly from Puerto Rico and especially for this event, Yolanda Velazquez and Iona Muniz. I can't wait to see their work!

From New York, Marta and Barbara will be showing their wooden saint carvings, Olga Ayala her polymer clay creations, Mercedes Molina her spiritual traditional Puerto Rican cloth dolls, and with her will be Carmen Ayala and Lani will be sharing their artwork, Myrna Nieves will be sharing her books, her daughter Zaadia her artwork, and María Mar will be sharing her book and overall spiritual creativity! Migdalia Santiago will be offering reiki and Lulu García too, in addition to her botanical toiletries that will inspire your soul!

On the wall and 2 tables, my art, both the Magdalene series and the new series Spirits of the Forest.

I hope that you will save the date and join us if you are in NYC! You can sign up at magdalene.org and get in my list and RSVP too.

I will be posting more about the participants and some of the art in the following days and weeks. I look forward to sharing the joy with you!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Come by MNN!

MNN El Barrio Firehouse is pleased to Kick-off a two-year exhibition tour of artwork by the group: “7 Mujeres en Movimiento / 7 Women in Movement”. The group - which consists of talented Puerto Rican multimedia artists, educators and consultants - will showcase their art at the Firehouse commencing the Puerto Rican June 2016 festivities in NYC.

Featured artists of the event will be: Minerva Gonzalez, Tanya Torres, Carmen Ayala, Yarisa Colon, Zaadia Colon, Myrna Nieves and Taina Traverso. Opening performance by Myrna Nieves, Poet. Event curated by Taina Traverso. 

Open to the public, light refreshment will be served. The event will begin with a small reception, followed by a live taping in the main studio for future broadcast on MNN channels. For more information and to register please go to mnn.org

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Guapita by Tanya Torres. Digital painting. 2016. An illustration for the program Guapitas, by Aspira PA and Gloria Rodríguez of the Guapa Project and De Almas Women's Institute.

Guapita by Tanya Torres, Acrylic on canvas, 10" x 8", 2016. The final painting, posted by Gloria on Facebook.

This is an illustration I created for a project that consists of a full day retreat for young women (GUAPITAS of Aspira PA.) The goal of the project is to facilitate experiences of sacred connection, body, culture & spirit, power, agency, creative soul expression, and feminist leadership. My mission was to create an original piece of art that depicts the qualities of Strength, Power, Confidence, Positivity and Realness. 

Here is the process:

I was sent this image. My apologies to the photographer, I have no information about the origins.
But it is very beautiful and inspiring.
First drawing. I concluded that this would be my daughter, if I had had a daughter. Drawing by Tanya Torres.

The girl needed to reflect more the girls in the program, so I translated the image to photoshop and added different hair. Drawing by Tanya Torres. 

Version 2 with longer hair. This was the chosen version. Drawing by Tanya Torres.

Acrylic painting. She was is too dark, sad eyes, no smile.
There must still be a sad girl still me who wanted to come out
and decided to at the wrong time... Painting by Tanya Torres. 
I used Photoshop to lighten the skin. Too light. Painting by Tanya Torres.

Layers of digital paint! Photoshop saves me once again! Digital Painting by Tanya Torres.
If I had not had long years of training in the editorial process, from my old days in publishing, I couldn't have done this project. When I sign up for something like this, I know it might take a few tries! 

I never set out to become an illustrator, but once in a while I accept a project for a book or a poster. I make people look at my website before they hire me and tell me exactly what they like, to make sure they really want to hire me. It is sometimes difficult to read people's minds, although that is one of my talents ;) Mostly, I know what I don't want to do. 

For this one, I knew I would enjoy doing it because 1) it's a girl 2) she could have flowers and butterflies on her hair 3) Photoshop exists. And illustrator, which I know just a little, but use for basic tasks. 

I still have to rework the original acrylic painting, but I consider the digital painting to be the final image and it's already in Philadelphia. I hope the girls like it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Mother, Holy Child

Holy Mother, Holy Child by Tanya Torres
Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas, 60" x 36", 2016.

This painting is for an exhibition organized by one group that I am part of, PRIDA (Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts), which will take place in a Catholic institution, Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, here in my neighborhood. I always wanted to paint the Virgin and Child, so I decided to go big!

I used techniques both from my oil painting and from my tile painting, since acrylic is somewhat between the two. This was a very different painting last month, an abstract that wasn't going anywhere... As soon as I drew this images, the painting began to flow. I call it a little miracle!

I have been painting, collaborating with other artists, and planning the Mary Magdalene Celebration for July 22, 2016. But this painting couldn't wait, so I stopped everything to do it.

Now back to the rest (but without rest)!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

This Saturday: Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea

When I met Xio Evans and Marni Rice, I recognized these members of my tribe! They do wonderful work, teaching a group of girls every Saturday at a Bronx library, for free. This Saturday, they will be performing Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea.

They invited me to exhibit at their performance at La Maison d'Art in Harlem. I will be showing the painting Mary Magdalene of the Roses and Mary Magdalene of the Bees, and can't wait to see their performance. Join us! 

Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Magdalene Medallion

Poet, Artist and Beloved Friend, Yarisa Colón, wearing her Magdalene Medallion. Photo by Josué Guarionex. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Mural

A week before, to control the fear of "big things," I told myself: "Next week it will all be done."

I was not sure how it would work, or who would help, or if I had prepared well or even enough. I only knew that I had less than 8 days to paint this big image full of words on a big wall.

I had always wanted to do a mural in my hometown, and I even published a design a few years ago. That's the way to tell the Universe "I want this." But my wishes often take a while to manifest, so almost 10 years later, I had the opportunity to realize the project.

This was not a commission, just a labor of love with a group of people who have committed themselves to preserving and enhancing the culture of this old tiny city in the southwest of Puerto Rico. I grew up there until I was 15, surrounded by it's beautiful architecture and the peacefulness of small town living. I tell my husband that if my mother didn't have to move to New York to work, I would probably never had left. I was happy there and life was good, predictable and comfortable.

The truth is I tried to go back twice, but I had already changed so much that I could not adapt. The truth is also that I am always scheming to go back, buy an old house and set up my studio there and forget New York. Dreams. Who knows, may be in 10 years?

And now there is even more waiting for me there. During this trip I met the Amigos de San Germán, Inc. group, who helped me paint and supported every step of the project. They made it fun and a true joy for the soul. Meeting them and the young artists who came to help, was one of the two big hilights of this trip. The other was visiting my elementary school and talking to the kids there.

Here are the photos, lots of them, to share the process of painting the mural. Lots of work, but also lots of help. Special thanks to my wonderful husband Juan, who sacrificed all his wishes to see friends and places in order to help make this mural; Flor, who committed to the project with the soul of a true artist; her brother Reino, who is the master of the roller and the small brush and came everyday to help; Mirelsa, who painted, cut and listened to our outrageous ramblings; to my lifetime friend Waldemar who painted, cooked, drank and pulled the musician to us one evening and who always supports me in life and art; my mom, who sheltered and drove us everywhere; Junior, who moved all his resources to make this project happen; Guido Barletta, the director of the Porta Coeli Museum, who first invited me and sent our way the wonderful college students who helped paint the Porta Coeli; to Pescao and his granddaughter, Eunice, Yolanda, and all the people who passed by to cheer us on!

Here are the photos:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

San Germán

I am almost on my way to Puerto Rico to paint this mural in my hometown, San Germán. My word for this year is "big" so why not start with an 8" x 16" mural? I will be posting about the process in Facebook, and here, if everything goes well!

I am looking forward to the process of painting the mural and I have been assured help! It is always a little scary to do something big, but it is also exciting to be able to realize this dream.

The poem: This is the only poem I have written in a long time. I was empty of words. But I love this town, so I wrote.

Amado pueblo, a ti regreso 
cada vez quemo alma busca reposo del gran mundo. 

A veces, aquellas golondrinas que se fueron un día, 
se posan firmes  en los recuerdos inventados del destierro.  

Quien ha crecido en ti 
nunca se olvida de esas formas 
que por siempre llenan 
las proporciones íntimas de la belleza. 

Tus adoquines escondidos, 
tus túneles secretos, 
tu geografía llena de alturas, 
tus breves calles donde cada tarde 
corre el agua que limpia los recuerdos, 
cumplen con la promesa que me hiciste 
cuando me marcaste  
con ansia de belleza. 

 Esas calles vacías a mediodía, 
llenas de la historia que brilla  
en cada uno de tus muros,  
y del sol en que rade tu présente, 
son el elixir de la ausencia impuesta. 
Pueblo antiguo, pueblo mío, 
esta sed de armonía  
solo tus verdes lomas 
calman entera.  


Beloved town, to you I return,
whenever my soul seeks rest from the great world.

Sometimes, those swallows that one day left you,
perch firmly on the invented memories of exile.

Those who grew up in you
never forget those forms
that will always fill
our intimate proportions of beauty.

Your hidden cobblestones,
your secret tunnels,
your geography full of heights,
your brief streets where every evening
the water that cleans all memories flows,
they all fulfill the promise that you made me
when you marked me
with the need for beauty.  

Those empty streets at noon,
full of history that shines
in each of your walls,
and of the sun in which your present burns,
they are the elixir of imposed absence.

Old town, my town,
this thirst for harmony
only your green hills
can fully quench.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mary Magdalene of the Bees

Mary Magdalene of the Bees, by Tanya Torres.
Oil on Canvas, 40" x 30", 2016.
Mary Magdalene of the Bees is finally finished! I still need to take a good photo, but wanted to share it with you now.

Many of my paintings are inspired by readings, and by documentaries about science, archaeology and history. When I encounter an idea that gives me a clear image in my mind, I paint it.

This new painting is inspired by a theory about Mary Magdalene by two archaeologists who traced the origins of an ancient manuscripts from early Christian times and managed to connect Mary Magdalene to the goddess Artemis. This was a surprise to me. I had never before encountered such a connection. 

Every time I find ideas like this, they inspire me because that is precisely the reason why I am attracted to Mary Magdalene. She has something to offer everyone, even those who don't believe in anything. That is for me a true source of spiritual wisdom: she is the saint/goddess/sprit who does not discriminate. 

In this painting she has acquired the qualities of the life-giving earth, with 7 bees hovering around the great flower of her heart. Her tears are the rivers that nourish the soil, and all that grows in it. 

I invite you to read more in this post at my new website, Magdalene.org and join me this year in painting Mary Magdalene. I have 50 small canvases waiting for her image in preparation for the Mary Magdalene Promesa Celebration, which is confirmed for July 22, 2016. This will be a beautiful year! 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year, Happy New Start!

Happy New Year!

Mary Magdalene of the Bees, work in progress, by Tanya Torres (No bees yet!)

I welcomed this New Year like a thirsty person welcomes a glass of water. I wanted this feeling of possibility and newness to push me forward. I know it's all mental, and in fact I started going with the impulse about a month ago (so that the New Year would find me prepared for the ride). Now that the New Year arrived, the feeling is complete. And it starts with this post from my new project, Magdalene.org.

Lesa Bellevie, the original creator of the site, gave me this wonderful gift to do with it as I wished, and while it took me a while to work on it, I began one sleepless night at 4 a.m. I can't sleep well when I feel unproductive…

I sat down and created the basic structure of the site, and published it. No more waiting, I will work with it and grow it as I grow.

So here I share the first post of this year. Please join me in this new year of art!


This year I want to dedicate a large portion of my time to my Magdalene painting practice and growing Magdalene.org. Some plans for the year are to paint numerous small Magdalenes on canvas and to host the Mary Magdalene Celebration here in NYC on July 22, 2016. (Save the date!)

I wish that my Magdalene partner and muse, Raquel Z. Rivera, could be here to sing her Magdalene songs, but even if she is not, we will have our Mary Magdalene Celebration and play her songs. Some friends have already agreed to join me and bring their own creations to make the celebration even more special. I will share more about this once I have a place, time and image for the invitation! 

The first step for this goal is to create a painting for the invitation, which will be Mary Magdalene of the Bees. I wanted to finish it before the New Year, but decided it was better to go lovingly slow. Like most paintings, it shows me where I should go instead of faithfully following the original design. A flower heart, after all, makes sense for the bees! Here is a preview of the work in progress for Mary Magdalene of the Bees:

I look forward to a blessed year full of energy and creativity! I hope you will join me in this journey!