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SXU Gallery Exhibits the Artistic Works of Piloto


Art is a very personal journey for both the artist and the observer. For Alfonso "Piloto" Nieves Ruiz, art is something that does not only belong to the community but should be constantly shaped and evolved by it. A self-taught artist from Queretaro, Mexico, Ruiz is a skilled sculptor who works primarily with clay and recycled materials to create dramatic, surreal pieces dealing with a wide range of social issues.

"My art doesn't just belong to me," said Ruiz at the gallery's opening reception. "When I go into a community and I learn about who they are and what they're struggling with, I use that to create. My art becomes their art."

Speaking to a gallery packed with SXU students, faculty and staff, Ruiz went on to describe his own personal struggles including how he moved to Chicago in 1997, losing everything he owned but a single sculpture in the burning of one of his homes and his struggles of living a happy life. While his story may have been speckled with tragedies, he told it as a triumph of community, praising how his neighbors rallied around him even in the darkest of moments.

"That's how I found art," said Ruiz. "I'd always been drawing and creating but those were just for me. And then I realized just how fast life is and that I should spend it being happy. And I think everyone can find that in art, whether that's you making it or going to see it."

Many of his works are self-described as "finding the beauty in something ugly". Using recycled materials and trash in many of his works, Ruiz has made it a consistent theme throughout his art that even something made to look ugly can still be beautiful. Each piece, while twisted and initially offsetting in their own ways, still managed to shine out as beautiful through its unique creativity.

"That's what makes doing these shows so cool," said Ruiz. "I get to see people enjoy art and find the meaning for themselves. I've even argued with people about the meaning in my own pieces. Sometimes I think they couldn't be more wrong and other times they convince me. I hear so many cool ideas and that's what helps me evolve my art."

The SXU Gallery is honored to be hosting the imaginative and deeply symbolic works by Ruiz. The exhibition runs from November 7 to December 4 and all are invited to come witness the creativity in person and decipher their hidden meanings. Visit the SXU website for more information on the SXU Gallery and its exhibits. For more details on Alfonso Piloto Nieves Ruiz and to see more of his work, visit