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Yeltsin Penado: Using Color to Open Up Conversations

The Group Scholarship Awardee for Fine Arts

Since its founding in 1972, The Group has worked to fund scholarships for deserving students of Otis College of Art and Design. The awardees met with members of The Group and presented examples of their work at The Group's Annual Scholarship Luncheon on February 16, 2017. One student from each of the seven undergraduate disciplines is chosen for the scholarship, and each week, we'll be highlighting a different awardee as we countdown to the 2017 Commencement Ceremony. 


Combining a love of science and a minor in community arts engagement, fine arts junior Yeltsin Penado is inspired by socially engaged artists that use their work as a medium to connect to their community. 


"I make my own pigments from natural sources and color raw canvas," writes Yeltsin. "At Otis, I have been able to talk to professionals in this field and I have been introduced to many different artists that work in a similar manner. I use the pigments to open up conversations of regional color, historical colors, chemistry, and physics. At Otis, I have had the chance to host multiple workshops on my process and share information with my peers." Learn more about Yeltsin and his work in the video and Q&A below. 


Did you always want to be an artist?

I was always interested in art. I have been drawing and painting my whole life.


What do you love about fine arts?

I love that the fine arts program allows students to explore every discipline and become successful at it. The fine arts electives are not medium specific and that’s a great way to work with artists that are other majors. Its been awesome blending mediums and working with sculptors and photographers.

Yeltsin Penado

What is something that you learned at Otis College that you will take with you throughout your career? 

In my Studio IV class, I had the chance to create presentations on my work, properly hang and display artwork, and also creating a press release for a gallery show. I plan to use these skills for the rest of my life.


Yeltsin Penado

Which instructor has most significantly shaped your experience at Otis College?

Carole Caroompas challenged me to look within myself to develop my artwork and signature style. I have worked closely with her to develop a body of work that pulls from spiritual, psychological, and personal narratives.


Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of my paintings. I love explaining my process to people and having studio visits. I have gotten a lot of good feedback on my large scale paintings so it's something I am proud of and will continue to develop.

Yeltsin Penado

Which class or project most surprised you?

Fringe Aesthetics with Dani Tull. This class is the best. The class focused on outsider art and sub-cultures from around the world. All the studio and research projects were so much fun. I had the chance to use a Theremin.


How do you handle creative block?

My journal is the best tool.


How has collaborating with others students informed your creative process?

I have engaged in team performances with other students. I have always wanted to collaborate with other artists and Otis has provided the space to explore the act of working with other types of artists. This has inspired me to work in different ways and become open to all forms of art.

Yeltsin Penado

Beyond creating work, how are you preparing for the business of fine arts? 

Through the Fine Arts program, I have come into contact with LA artist Sally Bruno who has provided an opportunity for me to sell my art through Art-Design Carta. This is a website that is a private market for artists to directly sell to collectors. This is an opportunity I am endlessly grateful for. I have learned what the professional market is like and how to present my work professionally.


What is your advice to incoming students as they start down the path to a creative career?

Use every resource the school provides! Otis has amazing professors, facilities, artist lectures, and Job fairs. These great resources have helped me become a professional artist.


Yeltsin Penado


If you could boil down your Otis College experience into one word, what would it be?



See more 2017 The Group Scholarship awardee profiles.