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“Nosotros No Tenemos Armas Para Echar A Pique Sus Fuerzas Navales,
Pero Tenemos el Arma de Echar a Pique Su Prestigio en El Mundo.” Albizu 1930

HomePurchase Oscar's ArtworkAbout Oscar López the Artist

About Oscar López the Artist

  • Billie "Lady Day" Holiday
    Billie “Lady Day” Holiday
  • Carlos Alberto Torres with dog
    Carlos Alberto Torres with dog
  • Chairman Fred Hampton
    Chairman Fred Hampton
  • Che on deathbed 2009
    Che on deathbed 2009
  • Crossing the border
    Crossing the border
  • El Che 2006
    El Che 2006
  • Fernando por Oscar
    Fernando por Oscar
  • Fidel Castro Hugo Chavez
    Fidel Castro Hugo Chavez
  • Filberto Ojeda Rios bw
    Filberto Ojeda Rios bw
  • Four Horses in corral
    Four Horses in corral
  • Francisco Matos Paoli bw
    Francisco Matos Paoli bw
  • Frida 2013
    Frida 2013
  • Frida Kahlo
    Frida Kahlo
  • Green background with purple turban
    Green background with purple turban
  • gringos-nemesis (Villa)
    gringos-nemesis (Villa)
  • Himba Mother _ Child
    Himba Mother _ Child
  • Isabel Rosado with two youth
    Isabel Rosado with two youth
  • Ismael "Maelo Sonero" Miranda
    Ismael “Maelo Sonero” Miranda
  • Janis Joplin
    Janis Joplin
  • Juan Antonio Corretjer and Dona Consuelo in rocking chairs
    Juan Antonio Corretjer and Dona Consuelo in rocking chairs
  • Juan Antonio Corretjer with red flower background
    Juan Antonio Corretjer with red flower background
  • Julia de Burgos
    Julia de Burgos
  • Katrina refugees at Houston Astrodome
    Katrina refugees at Houston Astrodome
  • Lynn Stewart
    Lynn Stewart
  • Mahatma Gandhi color
    Mahatma Gandhi color
  • Mahatma Gandhi sketch bw
    Mahatma Gandhi sketch bw
  • Malcolm black background
    Malcolm black background
  • Malcolm X by OLR with sisters brothers background
    Malcolm X by OLR with sisters brothers background
  • Marilyn Buck mixed media2
    Marilyn Buck mixed media2
  • Mayan woman in market
    Mayan woman in market
  • Migrant camp
    Migrant camp
  • Palestina
  • Pedro Albizu Campos
    Pedro Albizu Campos
  • Taina
  • Tribute to Saffiyah Bukhari
    Tribute to Saffiyah Bukhari
  • When the prison doors
    When the prison doors
  • Winnie Mandela
    Winnie Mandela
  • Zionist wall and palestinian flag pushing up from ground sketch bw
    Zionist wall and palestinian flag pushing up from ground sketch bw

Oscar Artist Statement

When I decided to start painting I wasn’t thinking of art as much as I was thinking of the effects sensory deprivation would have on me after a prolonged stay at USP Marion. I realized I needed to use colors in order to effects of being locked down in a 6’ by 9’ cell, 23 hours per day, without access to fresh air, natural light and the colors found in nature. Only once a week was I allowed to go to the yard for a period of 2 hours, and see a bit of nature’s wonders.

In the summer of 1990, after I realized the jailers had no intention of transferring me out of Marion, I talked with a prisoner who had previously offered to teach me how to paint. He responded very positively to my request, and helped me make out the order to purchase the basic materials I needed to start painting. The very first day I was given the materials and after the prisoner had given the first lesson, the jailers transferred him to another unit. The move was a surprise to us both.

I had the painting material, but didn’t know what to do with it. I took it as a challenge and started practicing on a daily basis, reading all the art material I could get my hands on and watching any how-to-paint program offered on TV.

Eleven months after I had started this routine, the jailers declared the use of paints to be contraband and I was forced to send the materials I had home. From that moment on, we could only use coloring pencils and pastels. I began to use pastels, and for the next eight years it was the only medium I used.

In 1998, I was transferred to USP Terre Haute. I was excited thinking I was going to be able to experiment with oil paints, and that I was going to be allowed to paint without any hassles. But when I tried to buy oil paints, I was told I couldn’t have access to any medium needed for oil painting. Later on I found out that at least six prisoners were being allowed to paint with oils.

I started painting with acrylics. The only place I could paint was in the cell – a 6’ by 9’ space I had to share with another prisoner. No sooner had I started painting that the harassment by some jailers began. During the six years I’ve been here, I’m the only prisoner whose painting materials have been confiscated twice. The last time the paints were placed in an unheated area and when they were given back to me mostly all had been damaged. So besides experiencing the harassment and not being able to paint for months, I also had to deal with the extra expense. Paints aren’t very cheap.

During the fourteen years I’ve been painting I’ve learned to appreciate and respect art. During the years I spent in Marion and ADX, painting helped me to relax and transcend the hostile and dehumanizing environment of the walls and the razor wire. It also helped me to look at the world differently and to pay attention to things I took for granted before. For example, finding a green blade of grass in the winter or spotting butterflies, grasshoppers or a deer in the spring or summer. And for the short moment I could spend watching them, trying to figure out their forms, colors and tones. The challenge was to make those things part of whatever I was painting.

I don’t consider myself an artist. The only art class I’ve taken was in high school. The art teacher required the students’ paint with watercolors. But I didn’t have the money to buy the paints. I did the work with charcoal and some of the students liked what I did. But the teacher wasn’t satisfied, and suggested I not take the class the next semester. At the moment I thought art was something only people who could afford it did. It was like tennis – a game that only the privileged played. Prison has taught me different. Unfortunately, when I was 14 years old I didn’t have the experience I had when I came to prison.

Purchase your Reyes Magos Plate by Oscar to benefit the children of Vieques

Read "Between Torture and Resistance"

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