Ernesto Caivano



What was your childhood like in Spain? When did you discover your love for art and your talent for creating it?

Very brief.  I was born in Madrid while my parents were traveling.  I was mostly raised in Buenos Aires.

I can’t remember a time when making things was not part of reacting to the world.


You already must of been incredibly talented to get into Cooper Union! What made you want to come over to the United States to study? What was your experience like at Cooper Union?

My parents moved to the west coast when I was 14.  I dropped out of high school after my junior year.  Took the GED, bounced around junior college and new haven, then on a trip to NYC, the city pulled me here.  Cooper and Columbia came from travels, and much luck to be admitted.


Modern day mythologies.


When you're conceptualizing a piece, does the narrative of Polygon and Versus always come first, then the artwork?

There is no causation or system that remains predictive.  I don’t conceptualize work, as much as the work conceptualizes me, not unlike an emotional response to a situation.

The narrative is and has grown out of a joy in creating narratives to help understand patterns in cultural and social relations.  Modern day mythologies.  The writing and the images come together like a pair of legs walking.




How do you balance numerous complexities while maintaining big picture relationships in your work?

I don’t know actually.  It’s difficult at times, and easy too.  I review and try to remember to spend time with the artwork and narrative.   But as with memory or any linear based story, it takes time to review.

What stands out are recurring patterns.  I call this scala, or Theory of Mythobiology.  Scala is the ability to interrelate patterns at multiple scales.  The idea is not new.  In gaming it’s called “infinite zoom” and in Physics they refer to it as “orders of magnification”.  The big picture is usually denotes the “purpose” or meaning of the story.  I look at nature for inspiration.


What is the relationship of black, white and color in your work?

It’s meant to be interpreted as you see fit.




How did you create your Electron Orbits?

Etchings.  Working with the Neiman Center, and many creative people to help prepare the plate from which the prints were made by having multiple passes.




Who are the artists that inspire you? Past & Present? 

Hokusai, DaVinci, Picasso, Diebenkorn, Celmins, Beardsley, Blake, Klimt….they’re too many to name.


Who are the intellectuals that inspire you? Past & Present?

This question is too broad.  I can tell you that I am currently reading Camus’ The Rebel, Alan Watts, Dylan Thomas, and Tielhard de Chardin.


Scala is the ability to interrelate patterns at multiple scales.


How have you enjoyed teaching? How do you describe the role of art to your students?

When I have taught it’s been rewarding.  I tutor and do studio visits mostly with a lecture here and there.


You seem to have the most liberating view of human consciousness and capability. Are you afraid of anything?

Thank you.  I hope it inspires someone as others have inspired me.  Of course I am afraid, but this is a relative value, and not sure it would apply as a general idea.  Fear is something I experience and think of more like a reaction, exactly in the same way one laughs or is surprised.  It’s difficult, actually impossible, to be surprised in advance.  The word “Fear" is a mental construct.  The sensations of being afraid are another thing altogether.


If you could create anything what would it be?

A cap on how rich people and corporations can get.  At 10 billion per se, you would be required to retire, and enjoy working or doing things for their own sake, and not for power or symbolic meaning.




"I wonder if all these stars may be like our thoughts. Every thought and experience we’ll feel is connected to a star. And so we can gaze up and know it’s useless to hold on to any one, though we may create constellations from the brightest ones and remember them and pass them along to our friends and children, calling them, big dipper, little dipper, Orion, and on and on. Let the scientist label them and study them, M31, the closest spiral galaxy to our milky way, still remains untouched, though they may look upon it daily and even perhaps become Apple’s default screen saver. No mystery unmasked, but only made more apparent how little we know and how much we can feel.


Nothing new in the spiritual realm just a funny irony of where we let go, and where we resist the letting go, like sitting under stars by the ocean vs. not letting go of an anxiety about work or money or self-esteem, and trying to figure it all out in our head, all the problems; as if of our experience of thoughts and emotions aren’t as equally mysterious but somehow not to the point where the belittling quality of the sky is actually comforting. We are so insignificant under the Milky Way, but why not our endless mental chatter, the mirror of mind? So anxieties and fears rather than being like the stars to ponder on but always out of our reach of concrete definitions, and so we get stuck. Has anyone gotten stuck (besides religious fanatics) that the night sky is pretty much endlessly indefinable, though we gladly play with facts and mythologies veiled over it, all the constellations we build, and theories we rediscover, but somehow it never succeeds (grateful for this) in diminishing out or compressing our experience. We are united with it. Dust again. When fears come up in ourselves, we usually don’t unite, we feel we are burdened by them, at least in how we have been conditioned to label and accept pleasure vs. pain. “Our” (egoic) fears, and obsessions, joys and wonderment feel - in terms of sensations - so close to one another at times. Perhaps, the French were referring to this and knew that in the "le petit morte" reference to orgasm the irony was present beside ourselves. Everyone is assured orgasms and death, literal and figuratively, simultaneous and removed. If a “little death” = ecstasy, the death of self = ecstatic union. And on and on. The more I try to figure things out it’s as if metaphorically, I may drill more holes into the “problem” I’m trying to figure out but beside myself, and thank god, it’s only piercing the dark membrane, adding another little dot for light to come through, among the many other little dots, added by a communal collection of thoughts. These dots we call stars sometimes, and my singular possessed insight simply gets lost in the cosmos, indistinguishable from the countless suns. The more holes, the more stars, grander the sky becomes; so we are belittled even further, and return to being insignificant but united again, under our own thoughts, baffled by the immensity of being held under the canopy of everyone’s mind at once, looking upwards, looking for a constellation where we see our interwoven thoughts and traces of how the mind plays beyond our body."