Neil “Clavo” Rivas is an interdisciplinary artist whose work stems from his roles as a documentarian, educator, and activist. Using photographic imagery, collected objects, and appropriated pop-culture iconography, he is invested in aesthetic politics and creating tactical interventions within social, cultural, and political contexts. His diverse projects have come in a range of forms, including multimedia installations, video, public interventions, web-based projects, performances, and community-based practices. Much of his work has been used for educational purposes, journalism, and legal evidence.

Rivas is the creator of the U.S. Department of Illegal Superheroes – the largest investigative agency in the U.S. dedicated to the apprehension and removal of “illegal superheroes”; and Clavo’s School for Young Superheroes (SYS) – a traveling school inspired by the institute where the X-Men are educated in the Marvel Comics universe. His documentary work has covered numerous social movements and political events, including the migrant rights movement in the U.S. (2006-2011), the 2009 military coup in Honduras, the 2009 historic presidential race in El Salvador, the South Central Farm in Los Angeles (2006), Occupy Oakland (2011-2012), and La Vela de las Intrépidas in Juchitán, Oaxaca (2012).

Rivas’ work has been exhibited and performed at venues such as the Museum of Latin American Art; Museum of Art of El Salvador; Palacio Nacional de Guatemala; Cartoon Art Museum; UC Berkeley's Arts Research Center; Yale University; SOMArts Cultural Center; LMU Laband Art Gallery; Berkeley Art Center; San Francisco State University; San Jose State University; Southern Exposure; Root Division; MOCA Tempe; and many other public, private, and independent spaces. His work has been acquired by Michigan State University Libraries, and exists in private collections in the United States and Australia. His photography has been published by the likes of The Guardian (UK), Prensa Contrapunto (El Salvador), Lado B (Mexico), Democracy Now!, The Huffington Post, The New York Times blog, The Washington Post, INDIGnacíon, KQED, and others.

Rivas has done residencies at Kala Art Institute, Richmond Art Center, Intersection for the Arts, Galería de la Raza, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, espacioce!, Morfo, and El Nahual. He has been the recipient of several awards, grants, and fellowships; and his work has been featured by The Huffington Post, NBC, CNN Español, Univision, MTV tr3s, ArtInfo International, Colorlines Magazine, Upworthy, NPR, SF Weekly, Art Practical, Daily Serving, and more, including media throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia, and China.

Rivas received his MFA in Fine Arts at California College of the Arts and his BFA in Art Photography from California State University, Long Beach. In 2017, he will be a California State Parks artist-in-residence at Angel Island. Rivas is the son of Salvadoran immigrants and was raised in Los Angeles, California.

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