Born in Colombia, South America, Rafael immigrated with his family to the United States in 1984, taking up residency in Allentown. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He attended the Corcoran School of Art in 1994-1995; and received a Bachelor of Arts, Art Studio from Bloomsburg University in 1991. He is a 1986 graduate of Louis E. Dieruff High School, Allentown. His work has been exhibited at the Allentown Art Museum, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, and the State Capital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, among others. Rafael sees art as the merging of design, aesthetic subjectivity, and vision through the application of skills developed by the artist to manipulate, shape, and transform the chosen medium or media (be it the body, clay, paint, sound, language, etc.). Rafael believes the primary role/contribution of an artist in any community is to make art. In doing so, artists can become mirrors, allowing the community to look at itself reflected in the work. Artists can act as telescopes, bringing subjects, ideas, and possibilities to a discernible plane. Artists can be microscopes, facilitating the scrutiny of otherwise invisible elements. Artists can also function as speakers and amplifiers, allowing the community to hear the voices of its members, specially the marginalized and the outsider. These functions often intertwine and overlap. At the end of 2006, Rafael returned to work full time in his art studio. He spent the last two years as Ensemble Member, actor, and educator at Touchstone Theatre, located in Southside Bethlehem. Through play and improvisation, but grounded on technical mastery and discovery, his new work continues to explore bottles as subject matter. This exploration focuses on the metaphorical and functional qualities of the archetypal vessel. Rafael attempts to address, through art, questions related to aesthetics, spirituality, gender, gender roles, sexual identity, power, and how they impact our perceptions, experiences, and our lives.