The artist was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to parents who had emigrated from the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico. Tió received his fine arts training from Temple University (B.A. 1974), the Tyler School of Art in Rome, Italy (Post-Baccalaureate Study 1975-76) and the University of Cincinnati (M.F.A. 1979). The artist has exhibited nationally as well as regionally in drawing, painting, and printmaking for over 40 years, and has conducted workshops on mural painting, papermaking, and the book arts. Tió has received recognition for his work through exhibition awards and creative research grants from Arts Midwest/NEA, Indiana Arts Commission, Indiana State University Arts Endowment, Ohio Arts Council, New Forms Regional Grant Program, Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, and Bowling Green State University.
Artwork by Tió resides in a number of private and public collections, including: Brigham and Women’s Hospital Library, Boston, MA, Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Ateneo Puertorriqueño, San Juan, Puerto Rico; The Rockefeller Foundation, New York; The White House, Washington, DC; Bradley University, Peoria, IL; University of Cincinnati, OH; Denver Public Library, CO; Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York; East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN; University at Buffalo, SUNY, NY; The Elvehejm Museum, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Villa Taverna Foundation, Washington, DC; Fort Hays State University, KS; Mexican Consulate Office, Chicago, IL; National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC; Ohio Arts Council and The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
Tió has been a long-time member of professional organizations such as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the College Art Association, the International Council of Fine Arts Deans, the National Council of Arts Administrators, and The Typophiles.
Residing in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Tió is a Professor of Fine Arts in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
I have always felt torn between two cultures; the suburban middle-class objectivity of my American birth, and the passionate sensitivity of my Latino heritage. I am of direct Puerto Rican decent, but was born in the Mid-West, and have never lived extensively in Puerto Rico. Although there are still a number of relatives in Puerto Rico, (the Diaz side of the family), my infrequent contacts are with the stateside kin (the Tió side). Most of my life has been spent in middle-class America; the suburbs are my barrio, and English is my language. Without an ability to communicate in Spanish as well, I have become culturally shy of my own ethnicity. Rather than the ideal acculturation that many minorities seek, I have become fully enculturated.
My interest in bright color, rhythmic patterning and expressive figurative imagery, combined with mixed media, including oil pastels, charcoal, conté, and acrylic washes on paper, provides a fresh interpretation to events and individuals that I have come into contact with. Ongoing studio developments in experimental techniques in printmaking, papermaking, and the book arts that include bilingual text, offer a new visual format that seeks to communicate to a broader audience.
I have found that the visual arts have long been a significant part of Latino culture, providing a visible means of communicating social consciousness and reawakened self-esteem. A considerable amount of my time has been spent in developing a “bivisual” means of communicating to both cultures through my artwork. The works are hybrids; they combine elements of both mainstream America and exotic Hispania. Through these works, I attempt to reach out to my Latino past in a concerted effort to expand and enrich my mainstream identity. Where my enculturated mainstream upbringing has denied my Latino ancestry, my artwork creates an acculturated balance between these two worlds.