February 20, 2015

On January 21, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz presented about the Wepa Woman at Diseño , a panelist discussion on the subject of using comic books and superheroes as vehicles for the exploration of identity. The panel took place at El Museo del Barrioin, New York City, and received federal funding from the Latino Initiatives Pool.

Wepa Woman is described by Raimundi-Ortiz as a “NuyoRican” super hero character who is “charged with cultural preservation among her beloved NuyoRicans.” About her participation on the panel Raimundi-Ortiz comments, “I am proud to say that working at UCF has allowed me the time and support to truly expand my contemporary art practice. Speaking on this panel along with such esteemed colleagues was a great honor for me. I am happy to bring that success back to my students as an example of what is possible if you follow your dream.”

“Raimundi-Ortiz’s exploration of the ‘NuyoRican’ identity plays an important role in the current debate about immigration and the value of ethnic diversity for American culture. As a third generation Puerto Rican, Raimundi-Ortiz’s art is in ongoing dialogue with her diaspora; questioning its past while, at the same time, envisioning its future,” explains Yulia Tikhonova, UCF Art Gallery director.

Panelists at Diseño included Phil Jimenez (Marvel Comics) and Ivan Velez, Jr. (Tales of the Closet). Ilan Stavans and Lewis-Sebring, Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and author of Latino U.S.A: a Cartoon History, moderated the discussion.

Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz is an assistant professor in the School of Visual Arts & Design at UCF and has exhibited regularly in a number of respected venues in New York City. Her work has also been exhibited internationally. Keeping to her Bronx roots, she continues to exhibit and win awards, fellowships, nominations and recognition for her 2D and 3D artwork and performance pieces in New York City.

Raimundi-Ortiz, has built her artistic career around works that investigate “otherness” as a Latina in the United States. She is known for works that challenge the perspective that society typically has of members who are viewed as unimportant. She makes the unseen, seen for its continuing relevance in today’s society. Though her artwork, she admits, “isn’t for everyone” due to its strong subject matter. Fans of Raimundi-Ortiz’s work would say that she provides a strong female voice where it is needed and her participation on the Diseño panel seems to be evidence of an increasing audience that wants to hear those views she has to share about how art can be used to explore identity as it relates to race and class.