The Arts Scene: Rosie Saldana's inspiration

Where does inspiration come from?

The origin of the word “inspiration” is twofold. The first means to receive divine guidance, sometimes thought of as being “in spirit.” The second is of drawing in, as taking air into the lungs. The contemporary definition is not dissimilar in that you take in or are guided by something or someone.

For artist Rosie Saldana, she is inspired by many sources: her interest in art history; her exploration of her culture, self and heritage; and, significantly, her mother. She says of her mom, Renee Nevarez: “She is my other half.”

Her exhibition, “Chicana: A Historical Discovery,” opened July 5 at Collaboration Coffee as part of First Friday in Yakima.

Saldana writes, “Growing up a fourth-generation Mexican-American ‘Chicana’ but having little cultural history and few traditions, I use my art to find and embrace my own identity and to not only embrace my cultural history but celebrate it.”

I asked her about one of her paintings, “Mother,” which is an image of two tattooed arms embracing a skull intertwined with pearls. The roses surrounding the subject are not only reminiscent of her name, Rosie, but are more like a family symbol. One arm is her mother’s, and the other is hers, proudly displaying their tattoos.

The skull, a connection to her culture, is not just “creepy,” as she defines it, but has some charm and warmth to it.

Saldana graduated from Heritage University with a bachelor of visual arts degree. She knew when she pursued college that this would be her focus. She hopes to eventually go back to college and pursue a degree that will allow her to teach art history. Saldana works for Tieton Arts & Humanities as a program assistant and volunteer coordinator.

You can see her work at Collaboration Coffee through July 27.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at

Reach Tammy Ayer at or on Facebook.

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