Perez, 17, is a junior at D.C.’s Duke Ellington High School of the Arts and one of Washington’s most promising young creative forces. His solo exhibition is on display through May 15 at the Sitar Arts Center’s Cafritz Gallery, 1700 Kalorama Road NW.
What inspires your art?
My art is based on my community, the things I see every day, the small perspectives I’ve gained living in Adams Morgan my whole life.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve made?
All of my pieces have a story, but I’ll go with the one that continues to be a work in progress — a rubber band ball that I’ve been working on for 10 years. It just keeps getting bigger — it represents that art continues on. There’s always more that you can add to your work, or more education you can bring to your work.
You’ve done some pretty incredible etchings too. Talk about those.
With my etchings, I can bust with imagination. They’re so sudden — they’re full of small references that come out of my head. Mainly, they have a hint of Hispanic heritage, but my biggest is actually about the African-American experience. That was a challenge given to me by my printmaking teacher, who told me to get out of my zone.
What would happen if tomorrow someone told you that you could no longer create art?
Well, if that were to ever happen, the art wouldn’t happen on the outside, but it’d still happen inside of me. Then, when the day would come that I could create it on the outside again, the whole world would shake. The world would shake with art. – Leah Fabel