Angel Rodriguez-Diaz’s interpretation of a Mexican-American girl’s fifteenth birthday is displayed in his print, Stepping into the Light…Quinceañera. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, where the sweet sixteen is more commonly celebrated, Diaz was unfamiliar with the Mexican American version of the quinceañera but wanted to celebrate the universal idea of the coming of age of a young woman. Diaz has known the subject of the portrait, a daughter of a close friend, since she was a child. In the print, she wears her grandmother’s crown and jewelry, linking the young woman to tradition long embedded in her culture. He uses a dark, ornate pattern in the background to let the young woman shine brightly as she “steps into the light”. Diaz sees the portrait as a way to focus on the subject’s individuality rather than acknowledge her only as part of a larger group.
Angel Diaz earned his BA from University of Puerto Rico and his MFA from Hunter College in New York City. He now serves on the board of the Southwest School of Art & Craft. His self-portrait, Santos y Pecador, was printed in Serie VII.