When Ruben Calderon walked into CVAC to submit his art for the May is Mental Health month exhibit, we all recognized the arrival of a serious craftsman. Ruben's handcrafted handbags and clutches had that unique "something" that draws an observer. Maybe it was the fact that they were made from used potato chip bags or that in their new reincarnation were the perfect recycled fashion accessory. Somehow his art told a story, a story of recovery and hope.
Just as anyone of us may get crumbled up, discarded or feel useless we to can re-invent ourselves and find a new purpose. His art not only reflected his technical expertise but in a subtile way reflects the resilience and beauty of the human spirit. Ruben grew up in Los Angeles, later moving to Moreno Valley, CA to be closer to his family. Soon, Reuben also embraced religion and mental health.
"Growing-up I was always drawing, I was always creative. It wasn't till I got older that I began making art as a way to relieve the stress of daily life, its a tool for me."
Ruben has been making hand bags for about 6 years now, they usually take about 4-5 days to craft. Each design is made up of small plastic and paper tiles, He sews each square tile together. This creates a remarkably strong bag.
"I also make my own needle and thread out of old shampoo bottles. I do this because this type of handbag can not be created with a regular needle". Ruben explains, "The needle needs to bend and be flexible so that it can weave its way through the tiny grooves and tight spaces I use in my designs."
" I wasn't sure if they would qualify for placement in the art show, but people seem to love them. It gives me something to be proud of, each and every design is 100% unique - their are no two alike but they all feel like an extension of me, I like that."
Ruben won 4th place for his artwork at the exhibit, if you are interested in purchasing one of the award winning handbags from the exhibition we have added them to our online store.
Half of the precedes will go directly to the artist and the other portion qualifies as a charitable donation and will be used to continue art programs such as the Outriders 3 exhibition at CVAC.