Salvadoran artist will pay colourful tribute to ancestry at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

The exhibit which represents her passion for Indigenous culture opens on February 5 and runs till March 27 at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

After spending 21 years in Canada, a graphic designer, visual artist and the instructor is exhibiting her works at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery in February. 

Born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, Clarissa Banos will be sharing a part of her heritage and culture with Ridge Meadows residents. 

Her work primarily focuses on Hispanic iconography, Indigenous women from Ancient American civilizations and is an ode to her ancestry and Latin American culture. 

She moved to Canada and got busy with life and its offerings but it was in 2010 that she decided to return to her art again and hasn’t looked back since. 

Read more: Diversely abled artists to showcase works in Maple Ridge

Visual arts and cultural pressures

Coming from Latin American culture, where art is regarded more as a hobby than a career, she chose graphic design as her path instead of fine arts because of the stereotypes associated with it.

“Times have changed now but people considered fine arts as a hobby than a career by the time I graduated from high school. I told myself that I cannot afford a career in visual arts so, I need something more profitable and the closest thing to arts that I wanted to do was graphic design,” she shared. 

But Banos is extremely grateful for her journey and where she stands today. She works with New Westminster Arts Council, School District 40 for after-school art programs and Places des Art, Coquitlam for visual arts programming for children. 

This is not her first exhibition as her work has been on display for six years in New Westminster but, it’s her first time in Pitt Meadows. 

The exhibition, Echoes of Mother Earth is an ode to her Hispanic heritage and culture, something she grew proud of after living in Canada. 

“My main characters are Indigenous women from the ancient American civilization and prehistoric textiles. I explore a lot of the symbolism in woven garments that they used and all the beauty it represented. It fascinates me that you can know everything about a person just by looking at the clothes they are wearing.” 

a painting of a woman depicting mother earth
The painting Mother Earth shows the artist’s interpretation of mother earth as a woman/Photo Supplied

One of the most iconic pieces and one that inspired this exhibit is Mother Earth. The artwork is a celebration of life and shows the artist’s interpretation of mother earth as a woman.

Standing in the centre of the composition, taking up space, is a woman with long and thick hair alongside a Jaguar, a symbolic figure in Hispanic Indigenous culture. It represents strength while the coyote in the painting represents wisdom and agility. 

You will see the earth elements in the form of mountains, water, sun and green landscape, all created with bold colours, representing Latin American culture. 

Dream collaboration

Although Banos has worked with Latin American artists in B.C., her dream is to collaborate with local Indigenous artists because she feels a sense of pride that her ancestors and First Nations in Canada, all belong to the same continent and are the original people of this land. 

Her exhibit opens on February 5 and runs till March 27 at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery and invites everyone to come and share her love for culture and the earth that we tend to take for granted. 

“I think what I am trying to share is my love for culture. When you’re [living] in your culture and you see the sunshine, the food, the fragrances, colours you take it for granted. But once you live in a different culture, you learn to appreciate it and admire and respect it.” 


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