Renzo Velez

Curated by Jessica Oberdick

June 28th-August 24th, 2019

houseguest gallery


It is well known that Christian belief asks their practitioners to welcome strangers into their

homes. And yet our current political administration, while claiming to be men of faith, are

simultaneously pushing an agenda to detain immigrants and turn away refugees. This exhibition

seeks to explore this dichotomy by presenting the work of an immigrant artist within the walls

of an art gallery—and more importantly one that resides within a residential home. The work

presented represents the world through the eyes of an artist who is offering, through art,

the connections he has made with the people around him.The compositions of artist Renzo Velez

consist mainly of experimental portraiture—some through digitally manipulated photographs

or imaginative layered drawings, but all result in the artist’s personal understanding and

viewpoint of the landscapes and people around him. As an immigrant artist from Lima, Peru,

Velez brings with him a rich tradition of art making that comes through in the bold colors of the

drawings and photographs he creates. But he also brings the eyes of an outsider—an othered

individual who has found home in a small West Virginia community. The combination of the

artist’s work—rich colored photographs and graphite drawings, creates an ephemeral and

dream like view into the artists personal life, an attempt to capture small moments and feelings

on paper. By exhibiting the works of artist Renzo Velez within houseguest gallery we seek

to shed light on the nature of prejudice and the political status of immigration in this country

by presenting the richness that emerges from exposure to other cultures. While Velez’s work

offer no political insight or message—we make a political act instead by welcoming the artist

and exhibiting his work.



Renzo Velez is a Peruvian artist based in Shepherdstown, WV. He was born and raised in

Lima, Peru, until the age of 16. Lima is where Velez realized art was going to play an integral

part in his life. He grew up inspired by the growing street art movement in Lima, rich Peruvian

culture, and the beauty of a small South American country. In 2006, Velez and his family

moved to the United States and settled in West Virginia. Ever since, the beauty of West Virginia,

a very different landscape and culture, and the friendships formed during this stage of his life,

have inspired his art. Velez currently attends Shepherd University in pursuit of a

Graphic Design degree.

Renzo’s work looks deeply into relationships of embodiment and place-- the ways in which we’re

formed by the landscapes of our home(s). Renzo’s work merges landscape/native flora and

portraiture in an effort to portray how complex people’s relationships to their environments

and experiences are, and the way in which these elements impact who you are as a person.

Each of these pieces express these concepts by combining different environments and elements

to create a surreal representation of a person.The dramatic separation Renzo experienced from

the landscapes/natural scenes of his home, give Renzo an attuned perspective into these

connections. There is a sense of belonging that is built through this series. Friendship and

interpersonal connection is central to these pieces. Each piece is unique, just like Renzo’s

relationship to the figure (friend) in each piece is unique. They represent how Renzo feels

about people and how people make him feel-- Those feelings are complex, and better expressed




Jessica Oberdick is a visual artist, curator, and writer. In December 2017 Oberdick graduated

from the University of Louisville with her dual Master of Arts and Art History in Critical and

Curatorial Studies and Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management. She also holds

a BFA from Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV. Within her practice her work and

research focus on identity, social politics and the interactions between art and social justice.

Currently she works as the Exhibitions Assistant for The University of Louisville.


June 28th-August 24th, 2019 // gallery hours: Saturday 10-1 or by appointment

opening reception: June 28th, 2019 6-10p