hannah gentiles

yosdy valdivia - local artist

Walking through the future studio of local artist Yosdy Valdivia, I felt inspired. The sun was setting in Ojinaga in the magical way it only seems to do there. Often with a kickup of dirt making a hazy filter through the reflections of the falling light. The fenced backyard of the casita holding 2 anxious pups - sits behind her grandparents grocery/hardware store on the outskirts of Ojinaga.  It is adorned with ancient looking nopales, immense paddles in shapes I’d never seen before; as well as young citrus working on producing their 1st fruits. The nopales were rooted by her Abuelo many years ago, while the citrus was a new contribution to the space, planted by Yosdy herself.  Behind the clusters of nopales, you can see the beginning stages of a gorgeous studio space, designed with large windows & plenty of room to create. It is coming along slowly - bit by bit, Yosdy jokes “As is the Ojinaga way”. Yosdy’s connection to this space is deeply felt,  it can easily be seen how that will aid in bringing even more inspiration to her beautiful work. 

Inside the grocery store cafe lies one of Yosdy’s five murals that span either side of the Rio Grande. Once a blank wall, she claimed the space in order to paint an homage to her grandparents. The image depicts a younger version of her Abuela & Abuelo selling fruit out of a cart on land, where they first began. The colors are somehow both subdued & vibrant, something Yosdy masters beautifully. 

“Being from both sides of two different countries has definitely had an impact on me - by growing up between two different, yet similar cultures. One by being my first home, my roots, my future grave, & the other showing me the infinite possibilities we can have as Americans. I learned how to perfect my art thanks to my American schooling, but I‘ve reflected everything I love & appreciate from Mexico into my work. It all began with me learning how to draw in Presidio, & all of my drawing & painting work has been influenced not just Ojinaga, but México in general. I find my culture very comforting, rich, & easy to find inspiration in.” Yosdy shares, as I ask her about the inspiration she finds from the region. 

“There’s not a day where I don’t think about owning my own gallery. My studio is still in the works, but I constantly picture in my head what I want it to look like. I just imagine myself working on huge paintings, & later walking outside to my garden to ponder. And just like any other artist, I am hoping to showcase my art around interesting places; I feel like I have so much to show, but it seems like it’s not the right time just yet. I just know it, but I am learning to be patient & understand about “right timing.” -  Yosdy Valdivia


Jorge Avena, her middle school art teacher;  combining discipline with her burgeoning talent, was the first to give her permission to take her interest seriously. Entering High School, she describes her increasing passion in art as “extra”. Laurie Holman would meet her there, fostering her artistic aptitude. At Ms.Holman’s encouragement, Yosdy began submitting her work. One of her awards, sent her to the Western Art Academy in Kerrville where she’d spend two months creating; eventually selling a couple pieces from her time at the Academy. Several years later she’d be reunited with that work -  after finding her first piece for sale at a local thrift store. She confessed she was relieved, having regretted selling it to begin with. 

Choosing Ms. Holman as the muse for a recent piece, she’d get the chance to show her former teacher & friend gratitude. 

Miguel Valverde - an artist based out of Chihuahua, Mexico - invited Yosdy to participate in an exhibit showing in Brussels. “The Color of the Sage” as the exhibit was named, is a collective of artists from OJ & Oaxaca. They were charged with choosing their personal “Sage” as their subjects; a person who has guided them. Yosdy chose Ms. Holman. 

Miguel’s work includes the music sculpture corridor in Ojinaga, including several larger than life musical instruments adorning 8th street.  (I’m partial to the accordion) Yosdy finds much inspiration in the ever growing body of vast work by Miguel, adding extra appreciation for a visit to his studio space - that has inspired the creation of her own upcoming studio.

Yosdy is currently working on adorning a friend’s wall in a new style for her. It’s a poetic pattern- like assortment of shapes - desert inspired - floating around one another in the open space. All blue. She shows me how she is using spray paint as the first layer and will return with an acrylic paint to sharpen the lines. 

Each artist, at the final mural in Ojinaga was given a block of white space on the wall surrounding the Kindergarten Rosaura. Yosdy’s square is an homage to women. To mothers. She’d been noticing with more frequency the immense ways women show up. For families, for the community. Walking kids to school, buying groceries etc. The mural depicts a woman at the market, because as she says “It’s always women, they do everything.”. 

Referencing her favorite piece of work to date - made a year ago, Yosdy shares its deeply personal back story…” More like a personal painting based on a love affair I had, I considered it what they call a twin flame, because I was learning a bit about mysticism around that time. Real or not, my experience was so powerful that it took a toll on me. We learned so much about each other, our lives are very similar, and we loved each other so much that distance had to eventually break us off. I was heartbroken but happy to have the opportunity to live that experience, that during my heartbreak I painted. I portrayed two souls, each different and beautiful, wandering in the desert. It’s hard for me to put in words, but I only know what it feels, I guess. And that was that, this work is just my favorite.”

Time spent with Yosdy is a delight, she is charismatic with both a trusting confidence and a charming humility, which I believe can both be felt in her work. She holds such reverence for her culture & pride for both places she’s from yet such a curiosity for what the world has to offer. I think this will take her far. 

“I would like to invite people to come to Presidio and Ojinaga and check it out. Definitely very wonderful little towns. I could say both places are perfect to raise a family in, places where we advocate about inclusion, respect, love, and pride. We have so much to give, and we have so much potential.”

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