Born on the tropical island of Puerto Rico, Tom Vega's earliest memories were emotional, visual, and tactile. Surrounded by and engulfed in tropical light, color took on an identity that was indelible. For Vega, feelings had color. Music and words had color. Embraces had color. Food and its tastes had color.
Vega moved to New York at the age of six, where he arrived from Puerto Rico during a blizzard—a painful experience. Raised in Little Italy listening to Mario Lanza from loudspeakers on the corner, Vega was a child prodigy on the violin. He taught junior high and high school, provided guidance counseling, worked for the Board of Education, and helped found and taught classes at El Museo del Barrio. His desire to strengthen children later inspired him to train as a psychotherapist and begin an exploration of interior landscapes. Vega painted throughout these years and brings this rich lifetime of experience to his works, which are intense, abstract, and intuitive and which call up visceral reactions—spiritual, sensual, elated, angry, or pained.
Classically trained in fine art at the New York City High School for Music and Art and NYU, Vega is, at heart, an emotion-eliciting colorist, evoking a catharsis through color and landscapes of emotion and feeling. Large acrylic panels, some in horizontal diptych or triptych format, are earthy, rude, elegiac, strident, lovely, quiet, religious, and climactic by turn, and capture moments where the visual is inseparably physical and emotional.
Vega lives in color, expresses through color, and speaks, controls, resolves, and is magically at home in color.