My Portuguese-American ethnicity has been a source of inspiration. As a child and teenager, I was raised in the tight-knit Portuguese-American community of Ludlow, Massachusetts, spoke only Portuguese at home, and was influenced by the traditions that my parents brought from Portugal when they immigrated to the United States from the farming town of Evora, Alcobaça, in the 1950s. For me, art is autobiographical and no matter where my explorations take me as an artist, they are always firmly grounded in my cultural roots. This has taken many different forms over the years. At first, focusing on my ethnicity translated into realistic paintings of the people and places of my culture. Although this work was once exciting to me, when I look back at it now I feel it was narrowing my self expression. By painting realistically, I had begun to stereotype my culture, creating images that I thought others would like to see. More recently, my visual representations of my ethnicity have been less literal, less concrete, but the ethnic influence is always there, in the symbols, colors and materials, and in the process of creating the artwork itself. The process of creation has become more intrinsic rather than extrinsic.”
About the artist
José Santos received his Bachelors of Fine Arts and Masters of Science in Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA. He has worked for a number of years as an art educator in the Somerville, MA public schools and is also a professional artist. He currently resides at the Artist Building at 300 Summer Street in Boston, MA where he lives and works in a vibrant artist community. In 2007, Mr. Santos was the recipient of a $5,000 art renewal grant for teachers which allowed him to travel and work in Portugal over the summer. He was also an artist-in-resident at Byrdcliff Arts Colony in Woodstock, NY. Mr. Santos been part of numerous solo and group art exhibitions in museums, universities, and galleries and in 2004, the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, MA purchased three of his pieces for its permanent collection.