It was at Kean University where Ricardo Roig was first introduced to screen printing, an art technique that would eventually define his own personal art. Now, 17 years after graduating, he is returning to where the inspiration struck—as Kean’s newest artist in residence.
Roig, who grew up in Westfield, spent much of his college years at different art programs in Virginia and Maryland. He eventually moved back to New Jersey, transferring to the art program at Kean. It was there that he took a screen printing class that changed his outlook on his own art and process. Screen printing is the process of creating an image by forcing ink through a mesh screen onto a surface.
“I call [my work] hand-cut paper stencil screen print,” Roig says. “[It’s] all printed and a little different, and the imperfections are what created my style. Sometimes I’ll cut them up, glue them together and make a collage. Now I do hand-cut stencil on the wall and spray paint instead of screen printing. It’s exciting to always be developing and trying new things.”
Roig graduated from Kean in 2006, and returned to earn his teaching certification in 2008. He soon became the art teacher in the Westfield public school district while working on his own art after school hours at the Hoboken studio space he and his wife bought. They soon opened Roig’s own exhibition in the studio, which led to exhibits at hotels and larger venues.
The newfound attention led him to quit teaching to continue running his gallery and exhibitions and work on his art full-time. Then his work caught the attention of his alma mater.
Returning to Kean as its artist in residence, Roig will work on various projects for the school, including a 44-by-8 foot mural commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set to be unveiled this October.
“I would say, look inward and find your voice,” Roig advises any prospective artist. “Stay passionate, feed your creativity, and just keep working. All that love, time and energy creates value, and the others can value it. You value it first, and the others will value it as well.”
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