Tony Peralta was born in the United States to Dominican immigrant parents and raised in New York City’s Washington Heights. A fashion accessories designer by trade Peralta was driven by political and social climates in his personal work. Specifically the cultural tensions experienced by those living in immigrant American communities. After a group art show ten years ago, The Peralta Project was born to showcase his original artwork printed on clothing. It was a genius way to make his work affordable and attainable to his audience. However, as bold and impactful as the message was, it wasn’t for everyone so Peralta pushed himself creatively to simplify.
“One day I was looking art that I didn’t sell and I was like, you know what, I don’t really want to have this shit hanging in my house. Even though I was making a political statement, it wasn’t making me feel good.” – Tony Peralta
Peralta began to strive to create pieces that while still culturally significant were simple and had mass appeal – An art for the people philosophy which in turn has made his work more impactful than ever. His Goya Cans, influenced by Warhol, were his first interpretation of this new ideal. This is when things really took off. Fast forward 6 years and Peralta has quit his day job to concentrate solely on The Peralta Project and his original artwork. It was a difficult decision to leave a successful career but in the end he knew he’d never be happy working for someone else. Peralta says that keeping a positive mental attitude and pushing forward is hard some days when you’re on your own but in the end the reward is much greater. Now Peralta can’t fathom it any other way.
“But now, I honestly feel, if I was to go back to work for somebody, I think I would die.” – Tony Peralta
His latest exhibit, Rolos and Icons is specifically about the identity issues that women and men have in immigrant communities. The women chosen to hero each canvas were hand picked by Peralta for their influence on him growing up. Celia Cruz, the only black Latin woman on TV when he was a kid. Wonder Woman, one of most iconic American Superheros, half Mexican. Dora the Explorer, maybe just the most famous Latina in the World! The point, all these Latina women are American Icons. They are part of American culture and part of Peralta’s cultural and social upbringing in the United States. Simple but yet powerful and most importantly, relatable.
So what’s next for Peralta? Continuing to create work that is culturally significant and championing the fact that Latina culture as well as immigrant culture, is part of American culture.
Peralta is definitely one to keep an eye on. I can’t wait to see what’s next out of the artist. Below are some of my favorite pieces from Rolos and Icons. Be sure to check out the rest of his work here. And hop over to The Peralta Project to buy a piece of wearable art or scoop up a print while you still can!
All imagery provided by Peralta Project.