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Creative Momentum is a weekly series of art projects that employ readily available materials found in and around the home. Our aim is to continue to offer activities that are connected to contemporary artists, ideas, and practices and that promote critical thinking, social awareness, and inspired making. 

Creative Momentum projects will arrive on Thursdays until Art Omi resumes public programs and workshops.

We encourage you to post your projects to Instagram tagged with #artomi and #educationomi to be featured in Art Omi's stories or feed!

Gamaliel Rodríguez, Figure 1839: La travesía / Le voyage, 2019-20
(installation view at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA)
Above: Gamaliel Rodríguez, Figure 1839: La travesía / Le voyage, 2019-20 (detail)
Photo: Kaelan Burkett, courtesy of the artist and MASS MoCA

Creative Momentum 04: Gamaliel Rodríguez


The Artist


Puerto Rican artist and 2012 Art Omi alum, Gamaliel Rodríguez, creates large-scale works on paper using pencil, ink, acrylic and ballpoint pen. His drawings merge industrial and natural environments, presenting  imagined aerial views of deserted buildings as they become reclaimed by nature. Both realistic and fictitious, Rodríguez's work tells a story of abandoned manufacturing projects in Puerto Rico and pictures what our global infrastructure would look like if it were to collapse.


The Artwork

Figure 1839: La travesía / Le voyage, 2019-20 (currently on view at Mass MoCA) was made mostly with the ink of ball point pens. Starting in the center and working outwards, Rodríguez uses a variety of techniques to render buildings and overgrown "greenery" from an aerial perspective. In this piece, he combines elements from the old factory building which now houses Mass MoCA and architecture from his homeland in Puerto Rico. The mix of beauty and chaos is an important theme in this artists' work. We are at once drawn to the dreamy purple and blue hues and challenged to decipher the meaning of the familiar yet unsettling landscape. 

The Materials

  • 3 pieces of computer paper or lined paper
  • A ballpoint pen (that you can destroy!)
  • Painter's tape (masking tape or scotch tape will work)
  • Scissors
  • A q-tip, cotton ball, and/or a square of toilet paper
  • A pencil
  • A colored pencil (optional)
  • A ruler or straight edge (optional)

The Project

  • Tape the short sides of your three pieces of paper together so that you have one long, horizontal drawing surface.
  • Using painter's tape and scissors, cut geometric strips of tape and place them in different areas of your paper. Imagine they are groups of buildings being seen from above. Hint: if you are not using painter's tape, you can make it less tacky by sticking to and peeling from your clothing or carpet before placing on your paper.
  • Next, take apart the ball point pen by removing the outer casing. All you should have left is the small tube filled with ink and the end or nib of the pen. 
  • Use your scissors to cut off the nib of the pen, exposing the ink. Be careful! The ink is very thick and will stain anything it touches!
  • Now you can experiment with different ways of making marks on your paper. Try blowing through the clean end of the tube, tapping it on your paper, and dragging the tube across the paper. Be sure to get lots of ink close to your tape 'buildings'.
  • With your q-tip, try spreading the wet ink in different directions. Paint lines, dots, or other shapes to accentuate the space around your buildings. If you have a cotton ball or piece of toilet paper, try scrubbing the ink in a circular motion to get a soft, smoky look or dabbing to get a bush or tree-like texture. Use up all of your ink!
  • Once the ink has dried, carefully peel off the tape. You will see clear shapes that have been untouched by the ink. The negative space created by your tape now defines the buildings in your drawing. 
  • Using a pencil, pen, or colored pencil add details to your drawing. Add some industrial details (windows, columns, pipes, etc.) to your buildings and some natural details (trees, bushes, grass, etc) in other spaces. How is nature taking over this abandoned place? Try not to add any people, but rather, draw 'evidence' that people once lived or worked in your buildings. 

Sharing and Thinking

  • Gamaliel Rodríguez wants us to think about what our cities, towns, airports, and shopping malls might look like if all the people were gone and nature took over. Is your drawing inspired by a real or imaginary place? Perhaps, like in Gamaliel's work, it is a combination of both.
  • This project asked you to experiment by using a common item (a pen) in a new way. Experimenting often leads to unexpected moments in art making. Show your work to a friend or family member and explain to them which parts of your drawing were intentional (you meant it to be that way!) and which parts were unintentional (happened because of an experiment!)
  • Give your work a title!
Remember: post your projects to Instagram tagged with #artomi and #educationomi to be featured in Art Omi's stories or feed!

Art Omi continues to permit access to the Sculpture & Architecture Park during the suspension of public programming. Visitors are required to observe a safe distance from others, and adhere to other social distancing practices while at the park.

Copyright © 2020 Art Omi, All rights reserved.


Art Omi is a not-for-profit arts organization with residency programs for international artists, writers, translators, musicians, architects and dancers. Art Omi believes that exposure to internationally diverse creative voices fosters tolerance and respect, raises awareness, inspires innovation, and ignites change. By forming community with creative expression as its common denominator, Omi creates a sanctuary for the artistic community and the public to affirm the transformative quality of art.

Art Omi: Education engages people of all ages with contemporary art and ideas in a stimulating and dynamic community. Through creative exploration, hands-on learning and making experiences, collaboration, and critical thinking, Art Omi: Education instills understanding, appreciation, and lifelong curiosity in the arts.

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