Diogenes Ballester, b. Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a visual artist, educator, and writer. He holds a MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BFA from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. He has taught as Professor of Art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Arts, in New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz, the College of New Rochelle, School of Arts and Science, and The State University of New York at Albany. He currently works full time in his studio in New York City and gives workshops and lectures at conferences and universities throughout the United States and the Caribbean.
Although he had incorporated the exploration of cultural and spiritual history into his art since the 1980’s, he first called himself an “arteologist” in 2006 when he was asked to exhibit at the Museum of History of Ponce, Puerto Rico and presented “Ancestral Confessions: Evidence of a City”. Having access to manuscripts from The Ponce Historical Achieves and archeological objects from The Archeological Museum of Tibes, as well as found objects from the Caribbean Sea, was instrumental in transforming him from just an artist to an “arteologist”. Additionally interviewing attendees of the exhibit and videotaping their oral histories offered an interactive component. This exhibition also marked a more developed level of integration of new technologies into his art, which hitherto had included video, computer art and experimentation with internet transmission, and has since come to include interactive internet communication as part of installation pieces.
As an “arteologist” since 2006. He focuses on installations in which he incorporates archaeological and found objects, encaustic paintings, sculptures, assemblages and new media. The use of art to examine history is very important to his work; to depict and reconstitute meaning that bridges us to our past, reaffirms our identity, and anchors us into our collective future; and to offer through installation art an interactive exchange with those who come to view and participate. New technologies like the Internet, have offered him, as an “arteologist”, mediums of co-creating these experiences and conveying them to an audience beyond the physical space in which the installation is taking place.
Mr. Ballester has received numerous honors for his artistic work and has exhibited widely in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Recent awards and honors include: “Guest of Honor”, Second Guanlan International Print Biennial, Guanlan, China, 2009; “Best Exhibition of the Year in Contemporary Media”, International Association of Critics of Art (AICA), 2007; Individual Artist Grant, New York State Council for the Arts, 2006; Artist-in Residence, Alfonso Arana Foundation Award, Paris, France, 1999-2000; Honorable Award in Drawing Category, The 10th International Biennial of Print and Drawing Exhibition 2001, R.O.C., Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, R.O.C.; Gold Medal Winner, Painting, 3rd Caribbean and Central America Biennial of Painting, Museum of Modern Art, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1996; Artist’s Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York, New York, 1991; Honorable Mention, VI San Juan Biennial of Latin American Printmaking, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1983; and Honorable Mention, First Annual Exhibition of Works on Paper, Queensboro, Community College, Queens, New York, 1982.