Dalia Reyes' "Rainbow Body" exhibit explores cosmic lightness


Three paintings by Dalia Reyes

Portal practice: Dalia Reyes' painitngs explore metaphysical concepts.

Dalia Reyes is a Detroit-based artist and arts administrator with an undergraduate degree from the College for Creative Studies. In her artist statement for the exhibition Rainbow Body at the Connections Gallery in U-M's North Campus Research Complex, Reyes suggests her work “focuses on pushing fantasy into everyday scenery; where plants have names and all that glitters is definitely gold.”

I caught up with Reyes to ask a few questions about her process, cosmic fantasy, and upcoming projects.

Q: Your current work focuses on "cosmic fantasy and visual meditation." Could you expand on the sources of inspiration for your work?
A: My work has always been inspired by nature, space, and dream-like states of mind. As a child I was exposed to a very surreal type of imagery and ideas; the art my parents displayed around the house and also the music they listened to. My mom was into metaphysical teachings and New Age-y concepts and my dad appreciated music, loved Latin rock music from the '60s and '70s (still does). I remember his Santana collection and the surreal cover art for the album Abraxas -- it was wild! I was so intrigued. Later on, I learned that the artist of that iconic record was Mati Klarwein. I think those images and artists influenced me forever. Their flavor and visual taste have definitely seeped through. This current body of work is the introduction of that essential part of myself, the more metaphysical side.

Q: What inspired you to work with the circular motif on these recent series?
A: The infinite nature of the circle helped me create “portals” viewers can focus and meditate on. A point of access to peace. I would love for these to be functional pieces.

Q: What does the title Rainbow Body refer to?
A: Rainbow body is a Tibetan Buddhist practice done to achieve “lightness” by years of constant meditation. The series explores my own interpretation of that phenomena.

Q: How does your previous body of work, Venus in Transit, relate to the current series in terms of aesthetic?
A: These shows are part of a similar stream of consciousness so the aesthetic reflects that -- a little. Venus in Transit was about “shadow periods” in the orbit of Venus and what it meant for me. An ode to the darker, quieter times we endure. Moments of reflection. Rainbow Body is inspired by moments of ascension, sound, color, and light. The two shows are kind of yin and yang to each other in retrospect.

Q: How did you depart from more figurative works, such as the 2016 works on your website, to more abstract works? 
A: I’ve always enjoyed creating figurative work. I’ll still continue to do so but I decided to not be solely limited by one type of aesthetic. I consider myself interdisciplinary. The concepts and ideas that I am inspired by are dynamic and they evolve so the art will always reflect that. I love that freedom.

Q: Are you currently working on any other projects? What is your process when working on a series?
A: I am currently working on three art shows coming up: March, April, and July. I typically break down my process from prep time to execution time in weeks if I can. I also have an amazing network of friends that help when needed. I try to plan ahead as much as I can but a lot of the decisions happen naturally and intuitively. Sometimes long breaks are needed, sometimes delays happen. I let the creativity flow, but you know it’s not always easy. When that happens I typically just thumb through art books, research via the web, tend to my plants, meditate and then I get back. I want to feel confident with my choices so I take my time.

Elizabeth Smith is an AADL staff member and is interested in art history and visual culture.

Dalia Reyes' "Rainbow Body" is on display at North Campus Research Complex, Connections Gallery, 2800 Plymouth Rd., Building 18, Ann Arbor, through April 16. The exhibition is free and the gallery is open 9 am to 5:30 pm, Monday thru Friday.