Yolanda Daliz, a Puerto Rico native, can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t fulfilling her passion for art. “When I was little I was always drawing. I couldn’t stop myself from picking up a pencil or paint brush,” says the artist, currently a Bristol resident.
Daliz’s name is fitting, as her striking artwork bares a hint of the distinctiveness that surrealist Salvador Dali was known for. “You weren’t the first person the mention the similarities in our names,” she tells me.
Although Daliz’s work isn’t necessarily surreal, its bold colors and cubist influences emit a uniqueness that makes it her own. Part of this is due to her attempt, for about the past six years, to incorporate the viewer into her artwork. “In the past, in many of my pieces, the viewer has been able to remove parts from the artwork.” She explains that one of her pieces incorporated food, and any spectators were allowed to remove it as they saw fit. Once they were done morphing the piece, Daliz repainted it, finally fixing it in time.
Her newest sculpture, which she’ll be presenting for the first time at an art show this fall at the Phelps Art Center, attempts, yet again, to incorporate its viewers. “The new piece I’m using has a lot of CDs, mirrors and other reflective materials within the structure to capture the viewer’s image,” explains Daliz. The piece, entitled “La Casita” – it means “the little house” – uses reclaimed wood that she has doused in radiant blue, yellow and green acrylic paints. According to Daliz, it’s rare for artists to paint their sculptures. This only adds to her distinct style.
Along with the viewer, Daliz also tries to integrate her surroundings into her art. In “La Casita,” she accomplishes this again with the mirrors. “The Phelps Art Center has these beautiful stained glass windows where the light comes in, so I want my piece to also reflect those colors,” she says.
The colors found in the Finger Lakes Region influence Daliz’s art, too. She likes to capture the brilliance of each season the area offers. “The lighting in this region is so amazing,” she explains. “The seasons are brilliant. I feel in tune with nature because of the surrounding countryside.” You can see various nature scenes of the Bristol area in some of her paintings.
Daliz’s art is not restricted to sculptures and paintings – it’s also featured on utility boxes. A few years ago, she saw an ad in Rochester’s City Newspaper looking for artists to paint public murals as a form of graffiti prevention. So far, she’s painted a handful of utility boxes throughout the city with what seems to be her signature sketch – a two-toned, sharp-toothed canine with his tongue hanging from his mouth. The dog oddly resembles her Smooth Fox Terrier, Snoopy.
She’s also created public art for the Ithaca area. “I submitted proposals to install public art, one of which was for a bike rack that’s also a sculpture,” details Daliz. “This was more about adding something to the city rather than painting something – like a utility box – that’s already there.” Another piece she created for Ithaca was a totem pole, which remained there for one summer. She plans to re-erect the piece at her show in Phelps this fall.
When not preparing for an art show or helping clean up the city, Daliz teaches introductory art classes at Genesee Community College in both Dansville and Lima. Like her interactive artwork, teaching encourages Daliz’s passion for seeing how an audience will interact with a piece of art. “You never know what’s going to happen,” she explains, “and sometimes, an entire project will change. You always think it’s going to go one way, and then kids really surprise you. It’s like a story in the making. You never know the outcome, but it is always better than what you expect.”
You may view Yolanda’s work at the Phelps Art Center on 15 Church Street. The opening reception will be September 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibit is ongoing until October 20. For more information, call 315-548-2095.
by Alyssa LaFaro