Esteban del Valle is an interdisciplinary artist born in Chicago, Illinois in 1984. He completed his MFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009, where he received a Presidential Scholarship and the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship. His work investigates the performance of leadership, the role of the artist as a public figure, and the effects of class and privilege on institutions in the form of paintings, murals, sculpture and video art.
The back right molar in my mouth had been infected for weeks and was bleeding out. I could push my tongue against the inflamed gum and a spew of black, thick blood would spill into my mouth like debris, ashes from a fire. I did this often as I liked the way the blood’s knotted clots would melt on the roof of my mouth and along the grooves of my tongue, staining both my tongue and teeth the color of beets.
We hauled the half-burnt mattress out of my mom’s torched apartment and onto Houston Street, into the aftermath of the worst snowstorm Washington County had seen in twelve years. It hit all of Pennsylvania and stretched into New York, making the long bus ride from the city even more miserable and the usually short trip from Pittsburgh to Washington last well over an hour. Even the viewing—in which my mother’s twice-baked ashes were displayed in a glossy burgundy urn beside a picture I hated, a picture of her too thin—dragged on and on because the heater in the little Baptist church broke halfway through the service.