Title: M.I.A. –  Medium: Pastels – Year: 2008 – Artist: Eduardo Montalvo


The sky is dirty, your surroundings are ghetto, the average image of your neighborhood growing up. The streets of Sunny Slope at night are alive with dodging bullets rushing to melt through your body. Babies, kids & teenagers are all growing up with no father figures to lead them onto the right path in life. I have created this surreal image titled M.I.A. (Missing In Action) as it helps me define life through personal experiences.

M.I.A. is introduced with a lot of visual movement & poetic writing in various places, explaining my personal experience while growing up in ghetto neighborhoods  without a father. To capture the image of urban life & loneliness, I used urban colors & space between certain objects. Towards the right side of the painting is a young boy sitting down with his hand slightly by his head, smiling with makeup covering his mouth. If you look closely the makeup covers a sad frown the young boy has. The young boy represents loneliness & somewhat of a front to the viewer. He tries lying about being happy by covering his sad face with a smile covered in purple clown like makeup. In reality the boy is hurting because his father’s missing. To the left of the boy is a human face representing the young boy’s father who’s at a distance from him. The image of his father is partially deteriorated representing his loss of character, personality & self being. The center of the art piece has an image of a blurry clown, this to me represented my thoughts growing up. I remember having conversations with my father & not feeling right about what he said to me. He always ended up being the person who gave me bad advice resulting into me being brainwashed with negativity. There were parts of me that missed him but others that made me realize he was better off not being in my life.

An interesting image I added is a small white mouse running down the boys shirt. The mouse represents the young boy trying to hide his feelings from everyone around him. Running away from my feelings seemed easy at that time but never concluded to any good. The use of squares & rectangular covered shapes represent the young boy’s thoughts. These thoughts are left untold & more for open interpretation to engage the viewer in the art piece. The young boy was painted behind a fence, illustrating the boy hiding from the viewer & being afraid to show any emotion towards anyone. Part of growing up was dealing with pride & ego’s, the last thing I wanted was to be looked down upon. There were times where I felt showing any emotion near my father was bad. It’s almost as if at any point I showed any feelings, my “machismo-ness” would be questioned. At times I felt trapped with no way to show my feelings leading to me being angry.

The odd shaped puzzle pieces represent parts of the young boy’s life he hasn’t discovered yet. It was important for me to have odd shaped puzzle pieces because I felt that during my childhood a lot was going on around me. There were times where parts of my life were going well & others where life didn’t make any sense. This translates to the puzzle pieces having to fit but not fitting at all, symbolically talking about my life. The mixture between green, yellow & brown capture the feeling of an urban sky, giving the viewer a feel for the atmosphere I grew up in. Though growing up in Sunny Slope was tough, it made me who I am today & allowed me to understand life from a struggling perspective.