The Artwork of Raymond Rodriguez

With the Vietnam War raging on, and the untimely demise of John. F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the 1960s was a very chaotic time to be brought up in, but also an inspiring time for artists, like our very own, Raymond Rodriguez. 

Raymond Rodriguez, CVHS’s art teacher, was born in 1966 in La Habra, California. Raymond Rodriguez was born into a family of oil workers and later went off to teach art at CVHS. Even though Rodriguez has been teaching at the school for 13 years,  students know little about him and what he did before teaching at Carnegie. 

When he was a child, Rodriguez was fascinated by the blueprints [his] father would bring home and work on, so he poured through all the books he had on Leonardo, Tiepolo, Michelangelo, and Bernini, as well as modern artists like Marcel Duchamp, and Picasso. Rodriguez attended school in Dhahran and Ras Tanura through the ninth grade before attending the Pine Crest School, a private boarding school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he was not very involved in art at this time. Instead, Rodriguez was active on the swim team, tech theater, and Scribbler, as well as the school newsletter.

(Blue Flee)

Rodrigez’s favorite artist is the American painter Ivan Albright, who is a big inspiration for Rodriguez’s work. Ivan Albright is known for his meticulously textured paintings which look like that at any moment, they may spring forth from the canvass and into real life.

(The Poor Room by Ivan Albright)

 It was only until going to college at Texas A&M that Rodrigez took art classes. He studied the history of architecture while learning art.

“I spent too much time on my models and too little time on his other architecture courses,” Rodriguez said. 

After four and a half years, he decided to finally pursue what he really wanted to do- art school.  Rodriguez transferred to the University of North Texas in Denton with his brother, finally getting to do what he wanted to do since childhood. With a painting major and a wide range of education in ceramics, watercolor and a variety of different mediums, Rodriguez was commissioned to do paintings for other students at the university, reinforcing his confidence in his abilities.


Knowing that living only as an artist wouldn’t be practical, Rodriguez got a day job, choosing to teach.

“I want to secrets with students about my process and about the things that inspire me and about what helps to make a good artist and what helps to challenge artists. I’m always looking for that little bit of expression to say things that maybe can’t really be expressed any other way, either through music or other things that I’ve experimented with artistically overtime.” 

Rodriguez created the ceiling for the ballroom at the Hill House at 1561 Kirby drive. It took 5 months of working on a scaffold to complete the intricate piece 19 ft by 34 ft wide on a ceiling 19ft above the ground. 

1561 Kirby Drive a relatively infamous address, but Rodriguez did not know it at the time.  On the front lawn of the house in 1972, John Hill, a plastic surgeon, accused of murdering his wife, was shot by his father-in-law.

Knowing this, the new owners wanted a new style to change the negative stigma surrounding the house, so they asked  Rodriguez to remake the ceiling with themes of royalty in mind. Set on doing this, Rodriguez researched the different coats of arms for the Russian royal family and Catherine the Great. Using inspiration from Tiepolo’s work and Michelangelo Sistine Chapel ceiling, Rodriguez depicted an old-style, baroque-like depiction of the apotheosis of Catherine the Great, who seated in a chariot with the god Apollo guiding a team of horses across the sky, towards her Pantheon. 

(Ballroom Ceiling, Apollo)

The Rhino Surprise was originally painted to express the superiority of Carnegie student’s mindsets over other students who didn’t work as hard. portraying the class clowns as actual clowns. Originally, Rodriguez was originally off-put about doing the work, not wanting to make fun of non-gifted and talented students. But as the media began to increasingly portray class clowns in high school dramas as the villain, he took on the work. 

“Our culture here at Carnegie is a pretty serious culture, and we don’t take education lightly. So we’re fighting the class clowns, fighting the clownish behavior that we encounter,” Rodriguez said.

(Rhino Surprise)

Rodriguez ran for mayor in 2003 on a progressive platform, focusing on issues that are important to him.

“I wanted to raise awareness on issues that were neglected by parties with a different kind of agenda. I just looked at that experience as really an offshoot of what I do as an artist, just another form of art, performance art. But it did have an element of seriousness about it. It did bring me a lot of satisfaction to be able to bring awareness to certain kinds of progressive issues which I feel even nowadays, we’re having trouble addressing.”


When asked how he views his role as an art teacher, Rodriguez said, “As artists and the meaning of art evolves, the significance of art in people’s lives has evolved, but I think in a positive way, as far as people are looking at their entire lives and lifestyles as artistic works in progress. And probably in this 21st century, so-called traditional artists, need to consider the way that media has evolved, and the way that culture has evolved to redefine what the role of an artist is. Nowadays, practically anybody can become an artist. It’s no longer such an exclusive position. It’s made me more hopeful. It’s made me think that being sort of involved and witnessing the open-mindedness, the sort of innocence, of people wanting to learn about art, and willing to be taught about different approaches that they can use in order to express themselves or to express ideas about the things that they feel are important, has been very gratifying.”

Ultimately, Rodriguez hopes he will bring this vision to young artists here at Carnegie. 

“I feel like I’m giving a voice for helping to give voice to a lot of people who maybe previously hadn’t found a way to express themselves. And so for me, that’s been just very personally fulfilling and it makes me feel young. Every year, I like to start a new school year kind of refreshed, knowing that there’s always a new journey for someone on their artistic path that I enjoy opening up opportunities for.”