Celebrating the Creativity and Uniqueness of EWE: Q&A with Little Ricky Sencion

Written by Alexandria Deters

Walking on a busy city street (most likely Los Angeles or New York) you may come across a sticker, mural, wheat paste poster featuring a hot pink sheep with some sort of positive phrase like “EWE are Beautiful!”. This uplifting farm animal with a sick sense of fashion is the alter-ego of the Los Angeles based artist Ricky Sencion. Ricky is a queer artist who exudes happiness and self-confidence, and his passion of embracing who you are, especially if you are the “black sheep” of your family.

I do not remember the exact day and year or even the exact sheep (!) but that is how I first encountered Ricky’s work, a sticker on a some graffitied wall in NYC. I took a quick photo for an Instastory, tagged and followed the artist and went on my way. Once following Ricky, I learned more about his art and his childlike playfulness with his posts.

A couple of weeks ago (aka last year!!) I had the pleasure of meeting of having a Zoom studio visit with Ricky (the wonders of technology!) and I was finally able to ‘meet’ him in person. He was just as sweet and bubbly as I imagined he would be and ended up chatting for more than hour about his life.  It was after this pleasant virtual studio visit that I nailed down my questions for Ricky for this interview.

Like myself, we both have lived in the Southern California, the Bay Area, and New York City! You are currently live-in sunny Los Angeles. What made decide to live, and stay in that area? 

After living in NY and SF for a total of 10 years, I met a guy and wanted to give the relationship a shot. Even though it didn’t work out, I’m so glad I came back home. Aside from family and friends, I love the sunshine in LA. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

How has the legacy and history of queer activism impacted your work and practice? 

Honestly, my initial reaction was not much. Even though the concept of the series is about being queer, it’s not what first comes to mind when I’m creating my work. But I believe that deep down, it’s there in spirit. Lucky me, I get to create work that expresses my pride. I don’t see my work as an act of protest, but rather an act of joy.

I don’t see my work as an act of protest, but rather an act of joy.

ACT UP has and continues to impact and influence many people’s lives, not only queer people. Often this impact was accomplished. through their large demonstrations. You were able to be a part of one in the 1990s, can you tell me about that? 

Yea, going to the Act Up march in 1994 for World Pride was something I’ll never forget. I remember going alone and not knowing anyone there. There’s something different about going to a march alone and not with a group of people. When we got to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we all laid down on the streets. it was bodies on top of bodies. Someone’s head on my chest. my head on someone else’s chest, and so on. The church was guarded with tons of police. There was no riot, but the impact was beyond powerful.

You grew up in a traditional Roman Catholic Household. After coming out you were accepted, and you are close to your parents and your siblings to this day. Hearing your story made me so hopeful, knowing that not all coming out stories are tragic. Can you tell me about your experience?

I came out in 1990 to my friends and siblings. They were all accepting of it. A few years later, I came out to my parents via a letter (mail). I wanted to bring back a boyfriend for XMAS. In order to send that letter, I had to be OK with them possibly not accepting me and maybe never seeing them again. So their reaction, in some way, didn’t really matter. My siblings also all let me know that if they weren’t accepting, that we’d then celebrate XMAS without my parents. Their support meant everything to me. Funny enough, my boyfriend and I broke up so I went home alone. We never discussed it, but I knew that no matter what, my parents loved me. Also, what I learned was that as much as I wanted their acceptance, it was also important for me to accept them. By accepting them, I freed myself from any expectations. I never felt the need to share my life with them in the way that I did with my close friends. This has lasted to this day. I’ve been at peace with it all these years.

Also, what I learned was that as much as I wanted their acceptance, it was also important for me to accept them. By accepting them, I freed myself from any expectations.

One of the things I love about your Instagram is the way you describe your memories in such vivid detail. What first inspired you to share your life memories with your work on social media?

It started about 5 years ago. I’ve always wanted to write a book about my life and all my experiences. One day, on IG, I decided to start with the moment I was born and write from there. Every Wednesday, using photos in somewhat chronological order, I told you a little bit about myself. I created a hashtag #ewe001. The purpose was to write my life story while sharing those experiences that shaped who I am. By putting it all out there, even if explicit, I’m free. Vulnerability is our freedom. When we have nothing to protect or defend ourselves from, we’re free to be.

Your current character, which represents yourself, was inspired after reading Alexander McQueen: The Life and Legacy (2013) by Judith Watts. In the book McQueen describes himself as, “I am the pink sheep in the family.” Can you tell me more about how this book impacted you?

That sentence happened in the intro. I finished the book, but don’t remember much more of it. The book as a whole didn’t impact me otherwise. I knew most of the stories that were shared. But reading that sentence is not only something I’ll never forget, I’m grateful that I’m the one that gets to bring this series to life.

But reading that sentence is not only something I’ll never forget, I’m grateful that I’m the one that gets to bring this series to life.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on finishing my yearlong dream project featuring my SHEEP MOONSTERS. It’s 20 feet long. I’m almost finished with my SHEEP SELFEEE portraits too. There will be 54 portraits and I’ll be compiling them into one large piece.

I make sure to honor every idea that comes through with a sketch or some thoughts on paper. This is super important to capture all ideas.

How do you see your sheep series continuing? 

My SHEEP series is always evolving. I’m going to continue with the MOONSTERS on the streets, but I’m always open to new inspirations. I make sure to honor every idea that comes through with a sketch or some thoughts on paper. This is super important to capture all ideas.

2021 is almost over! What do you hope for 2022? 

As I do on a daily basis, I’m keeping my arms and heart wide open. I’m going to continue my dream project as well as continue working on my SHEEP MOONSTERS. I feel that there’s a lot more to learn from them. I have over 500 characters. I’d also love for some big opportunities to come to life.

What is the one question you wish someone would ask you about you/your work?” and what is your answer. 

‘What are the 4 symbols you put in your work? ” This would be the one question. The few who have asked are often hesitant about asking? Not sure why, but I love sharing the stories behind each one. Below are their meanings.

28- it was Gabriel Fernandez‘s classroom number. One day, after hearing his story, I told myself I’d find a way to honor his life. I call him Littleman. In my dream journals, I start by writing, ‘Dear Littleman …

Paz❤ – This one’s inspired by my mom. As a kid, I remember hearing that this is what she always wanted – to have peace in her heart. In 2018, I finally understood what it meant to feel it. It was a few months before she passed away.

IIIII – The undefeated symbol is more of a symbol of the number 5. There’s 5 of us siblings. It’s in honor of the importance of family, Whether the one you’re born into or the one you build.

🙃 – This was the last one to appear. It’s a symbol of the moment we were born. I like to think of it as a happy place. It’s a time when we had no name, no gender, no sexual preference, no religion, basically nothing. This moment is one that connects us all. We were all born. As I’ve gotten older, it feels like life has been about going back to that moment. Also, reminds me to see everyone else as a little kid.

IIIII – The undefeated symbol is more of a symbol of the number 5. There’s 5 of us siblings. It’s in honor of the importance of family, Whether the one you’re born into or the one you build.

Instagram: @littlericky001

Linktr: https://linktr.ee/Littlericky001

Website: https://www.littlericky001.com

NFT: https://opensea.io/accounts/LITTLERICKY

Alexandria Deters is a queer femme embroidery artist, researcher, activist, archivist, and writer based in the Bronx, NY. She received a BA in Art History and in Women’s and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University in 2015 and her MA in American Fine and Decorative Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, NY in 2016. Her writing and artwork are influenced by her belief that every human being is a ‘living archive’, a unique individual that has experiences and stories worth documenting and remembering.

Website: https://www.alexandriadeters.com

Instagrams:

@alexandria.deters.art

@deters.threadz