I see myself as a guide who helps students find their voice. Art opens us up to a more sublime part of ourselves.
In 1987, 9-year-old Eddy Lopez fled war-torn Nicaragua and sought political asylum in Miami. The civil war between the Sandinista government and the contras had raged since 1979, and his parents decided home was no longer safe for him.
"My oldest sister and her husband came and established a household," says Lopez. "When the government imposed a forced draft, that's when my older brothers left."
One by one, Lopez and his six remaining siblings arrived in the U.S. while his parents stayed behind. In 1990, the Nicaraguan government began to stabilize and the U.S. sanctions were lifted, "starting the renaissance. My parents stayed in Nicaragua but decided the family was better off in the United States, so we stayed."
His artistic talent had revealed itself at an early age. "As a child in Nicaragua, I spent time with my art, often getting punished for drawing on my parents' walls," he recalls. Lopez was exposed to art through the socialist and communist murals that adorned his city and a collection of art books owned by his parents, which he devoured. "A lot of my art education came from those books."
Lopez's experience as a child of war is evident in his artwork. "There were skirmishes going on constantly. I grew up with buses filled with soldiers going through the streets."
Lopez creates his art by beginning with images of war. "I am constantly trying to make chaos beautiful," he explains. One work, Beautiful War, was created by amalgamating photographs of war through the use of computer-averaging algorithms. The amalgamations are manipulated to enhance the color and value, turning the violent images into serene landscapes. They are then printed using a combination of printmaking methods — digital, intaglio and silkscreen.
In addition to art, Lopez also teaches design. He has donated his time and design skills to help several Nicaraguan nonprofit organizations with their marketing efforts. He involves his students where he can.
As an art professor, he strives to instill in his students a passion and an awareness and appreciation of art in everyday life.
"I became an artist because that's me," Lopez says. "In my classes, I focus on teaching artistic techniques and appreciation. But mainly I see myself as a guide who helps students find their voice. Art opens us up to a more sublime part of ourselves."