Artopia Preview: Y.E. Torres Balances Art And Belly-Dancing

The Houston Press Artopia Party is Saturday, and Hair Balls is previewing a different participating artist each day this week. Artopia will feature 27 artists, as well as live art and music performances, fashion shows, and a presentation of the Press's MasterMind awards. For more details and ticket information, click here.

Y.E. Torres will sometimes be standing in a line of people, waiting for whatever, and she'll start doing "butt-squeeze exercises," a result of her training as a belly dancer.

Torres realized another consequence of her art during a recent trip to Vegas with an artist who Torres works for as a designer, sometimes working with sex toys. Everything she saw, she says, was "art and sound."

"It was really just the porn industry in Vegas," Torres tells Hair Balls. "But that's how I think."

When she's doing her own visual art, she creates characters using techniques she developed as a graffiti artist during her teen years. She describes her characters as "inbreds, carnies and oddities."

"They're like an expelling of my emotions," Torres says. "Whether it be a character with big teeth or a big cock or who knows."

Torres calls the whole package she presents as an artist a "festive exhibition of deviance and sweetness."

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At Artopia, Torres is showing 12 mixed media drawings, collages that she calls her "safe circus," because they are free from danger or harm.

It's the opposite of characters she did previously, she says, which were more human and featured more genitalia in the drawings.

"Some people would be completely overwhelmed by the urban artiness of it," Torres says. "Other people would be really scared, or taken back, or probably just disgusted."

Torres won't be at Artopia, however, during the early hours. She'll be performing as a belly dancer at the Frenetic Theater.

"It's a show of contemporary belly dance. It mixes fashion design and body painting," Torres says. "Ultimately, it was my search to find other people using the formal practice [of belly dancing] in different ways."

She adds, "Belly dancing, I think, is seen more as a restaurant-style dance or very folkloric or gypsie-like. But what I do is nothing like that."

This spring, Torres has a five-week project at Labotanica where she plans to hang her characters on the wall and create costumes from those drawings. The whole thing will culminate in a live performance.

"I'm still an emerging artist. I'm just trying to accomplish being able to do my creative work," Torres says. "My life as joining these art forms is really just in its birthing stage."

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