Cecilia Moreno Yaghoubi


By Liz Sadler

Click here for video


(Original publication: March 15, 2007)

Cecilia Moreno-Yaghoubi never felt she fit in among her Scarsdale neighbors, even after almost two decades of living in the village.

A Colombian immigrant, she was sometimes stigmatized, Moreno-Yaghoubi said. She turned to art as an outlet, and began to tell stories of the immigrant experience in her paintings and mixed media collages.

"I lived here most of my life, but I always felt like a foreigner," said Moreno-Yaghoubi, 52. "I think in the last few years I have found myself through my art."

She left a job at her husband's real estate development company three years ago and dedicated herself full-time to her art. Moreno-Yaghoubi said she now wants to "devote her life to showing people that immigrants are not just day laborers who cut the grass."

"We have a lot more we can give," she said in her eighth-floor studio at the Westchester Arts Council. "I want to show that there is another side."

Moreno-Yaghoubi will be among 11 artists to open their studios tonight for the "Eighth Floor Artists" exhibit at the Arts Council on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. Her paintings and collages, called assemblages, will be on display along with jewelry, sculptures and other works by local artists. She also plans to auction one of her assemblages and donate the proceeds to the Don Bosco Center in Port Chester.

Moreno-Yaghoubi finds objects for her assemblages at flea markets and thrift shops and also uses recycled materials such as fabric and wood. Many of her assemblages contain old plastic dolls that depict a variety of subjects, including a Muslim woman, a suburban housewife and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

"Cecilia's work is very interesting," said Janet Langsam, executive director of the Westchester Arts Council. "The dolls evoke a very strange kind of aura of past memories. They're old dolls, so where they've been, who's played with them, what past references do they have, they're very evocative of those things."

Moreno-Yaghoubi was born in Colombia and immigrated to New York City in 1969. She moved to Scarsdale 21 years ago and raised two children there. After years of art classes and dabbling in a variety of media, her art has evolved from lush landscapes of her homeland to collages that convey political, societal and religious messages.

"I think the art will just spark some conversation," Moreno-Yaghoubi said. "People will see that we can add to life in Westchester County. We're not just day laborers."