Comic Books, Super Heroes, Sci Fi, Matadors and More at Aljira

New Currents in Speculative Art

A public panel discussion featuring artists Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Kevin Darmanie, Shaun El C. Leonardo, and curators Edwin Ramoran and Jorge Rojas.

Matador: Killer of Bulls

A dramatic, new performance by Shaun El C. Leonardo.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

3pm - 6pm 


Newark, New Jersey— Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Artis pleased to present New Currents in Speculative Art, an artist talk during the current exhibition superHUMAN, curated by Jorge Rojas and David Hawkins; and the debut of Matador: Killer of Bulls, a new performance by Shaun El C. Leonardo. The discussion begins at 4:00 p.m. and will be followed immediately with the Matador performance. 


New Currents in Speculative Art will feature artists Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Kevin Darmanie, and Shaun El C. Leonardo with superHUMAN curator, Jorge Rojas. Independent curator Edwin Ramoran will moderate. This discussion will consider how, by combining the mythical and fantastic, these artists are using speculative art forms such as comic books, superheroes, graphic novels, and sci-fi, to compel audiences to explore and look beyond current notions of race, gender, sexuality, personal power, and cultural rituals.


About Matador:Killer of Bulls

Following the success of recent projects at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Praxis International, New York, multidisciplinary artist Shaun El C. Leonardo debuts Matador:Killer of Bulls. The event marks the premiere of this multimedia performance where the artist transforms into his newest persona, The Bullfighter. In October 2011, Leonardo went to bullfighting school in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in order to research the art of bullfighting, resulting in "one of the most intense experiences of my life and art career” states the artist, “I consider this project a logical progression within my investigations of masculine identity, machismo, and the hero figure.” This performance reflects the duality of the Bullfighter - his bravado vs. his humanity. Interdisciplinary artist Shaun El C. Leonardo is most widely known for his visual and performance based explorations of what it means to be masculine.


Artists exhibiting in superHUMAN
Blanka Amezkua, Edgar Arceneaux, Kevin Darmanie, Kurt Forman, Chitra Ganesh, Fay Ku, Shaun El C. Leonardo, Kerry James Marshall, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Dulce Pinzón, William Pope.L, Robert Pruitt, Xaviera Simmons, Saya Woolfalk


About the Panelists

Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz has built her artistic career by creating works that investigate notions of otherness as a Latina in the US. Starting from personal experiences, Raimundi-Ortiz sets out to dissect aspects of her Puerto Rican heritage from varying points of entry- from within her own family, home, neighborhood, and intersecting Latino cultures. These investigations in turn, become larger studies on otherness as a whole in American culture.

Kevin Darmanie, born in Trinidad, is a Newark resident who makes drawings, paintings, prints, comic books, murals and installations. The artist’s work is a nostalgic and surrealistic exchange between North American and Caribbean ego, often expressed through an alter ego (Kedar) and illustrated like panels in a graphic novel. His use of wit and light-handed political criticism are a means to address stereotypes about Caribbean people by uncovering the deeper motivations behind their more popular expressions and to embody their various perspectives.

Shaun El C. Leonardo is a New York-based multidisciplinary artist who blends personal narrative and pop-cultural iconography from his childhood within self-portraiture as a means to convey the complexities of his own masculine identity. His work takes the form of cutout paintings, drawings and sculptures, as well as performance.

Jorge Rojas is a multidisciplinary artist, performer and curator. His practice consists of three main fields of work and investigation: traditional media, new media and performance art. These bodies of work are connected by Rojas’s interest in the creation and processes involved in artistic production and in systems theory as it reflects on natural systems, social systems and art institutional critique.Rojas, born in Morelos, Mexico, is the founder of Low Lives, an international, multi-venue online performance festival.

About the Moderator

Edwin Ramoran is an independent curator based in New York, New York. He was the Guest Lead Curator for the performance and public art festival titled Art in Odd Places 2012: MODEL which took place in October along 14th Street. He is a recipient of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Curatorial Fellowship Grant and the apexart Outbound Residency. Previous positions include Assistant Curator at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Director/Curator at Longwood Arts Project/Bronx Council on the Arts, Director of Exhibitions and Programs at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, and Program Director of Arkipelago, a Filipino arts collective. He has been a guest curator at the P.S. 1/MoMA, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, PERFORMA 05 at Artists Space, Boston Center for the Arts (forthcoming), Center for Book Arts, Clemente Soto Velez, Corridor Gallery, Dixon Place, Dieu Donné Papermill and Gallery, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Krause Gallery, South Asian Women's Creative Collective, The LGBT Center, and Visual AIDS.


superHUMAN originated at and is sponsored in part by Central Utah Art Center (CUAC). It will be on view at Aljira through March 30, 2013. The exhibition brochure is available for purchase at Aljira. An e-catalog is also available online at


About Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art fosters excellence in the visual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and underrepresented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.


Aljira's operations and programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Kenneth Aidekman Family Foundation, Bank of America, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Edison Properties, The Fidelco Group, Genova, Burns, Giantomasi and Webster Attorneys at Law, Hyde and Watson Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MCJ Amelior Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Newark Downtown District, PNC Bank, The Prudential Foundation, PSE&G Foundation, SGA Group, State Farm Insurance, Tides Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and individual contributors to our Annual Fund.


Aljira is located at 591 Broad Street in downtown Newark. For directions visit our website at The Center is open Wednesday through Friday, 12–6 pm and Saturday, 11 am–4pm. Phone 973 622-1600, fax 973 622-6526, Website: On Facebook: On Tumblr: On Twitter: @aljiratweets.