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Career Stories: Ernesto ‘Eroc’ Arroyo-Montano, DIP '14

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Image of Eroc Arroyo Montano with the text SMFA Career Stories

Ernesto ‘Eroc’ Arroyo-Montano is the Director of Cultural Organizing at the grassroots economic justice organization United for a Fair Economy. His practice combines healing justice, art, and popular education to address issues of systemic inequality and focuses on using art as a tool to help heal the trauma of colonization, white supremacy, patriarchy, and poverty. His photography, performance, and community-based art has been featured at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Science, and the Massachusetts State House.

Read more about Eroc's art practice, inspiration, and recent work, in his own words:

I am a proud father of three wonderful children, an emcee, circle keeper, artist, cultural organizer, educator, curandero-in-training, and aspiring elder. I am a queer Boricua raised in Boston and a founding member of the radical, award-winning Hip Hop group, Foundation Movement, with whom I have been blessed to participate in workshops and performances around the globe.

Much of my focus has been on working to dismantle systems of oppression through imagining and remembering new ways of moving forward. Healing must be a priority in order for a decolonized, interconnected, interdependent, and intergenerational movement to truly blossom. Transforming our individual and collective trauma into a deep capacity to heal our communities strengthens our cultural (r)evolution for liberation. The fight for holistic liberation and transformation requires healing at its forefront, especially for those in the margins. The toxicity and poison are real. The trauma inflicted is real. That is why my focus has been on healing, and it is very much in line with what I was doing during my time at SMFA.

One of the things I cherish is that my teachers did an incredible job of helping me realize the power of conceptual art. Helping me understanding that what was behind the work was as important as the finished piece. This allowed me to really ask myself why I was doing the work, and for what purpose. It gave me a way of understanding art that really worked for me. My teachers were experienced, working artists and that was a major plus. They were not just able to teach about theory, but also about practice. It is the relationships that I built with fellow students and teachers that I look back upon with the most gratitude. I have done a lot of my own healing and collective healing through art and that’s something that I was able to really develop over my years at SMFA.

Image courtesy of Ernesto Arroyo-Montano.