When did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?
My first goal was to be accepted as a dance major at LaGuardia High School. On the day of my audition, I was feeling very ill. I actually fell during my audition. Needless to say, I was not accepted for dance, but was offered a seat for the incoming freshman class in the art department. I vowed that during my first year I would re-audition and transfer to the dance department. My audition date had been set, and I felt more confident the second time around, however some greater force kept me from going. I somehow chose not to attend, even though I had the audition ticket in my hands. It was a that moment that I knew I had embraced a new path as a visual artist. I was 14 at the time.
What steps did you take in order to prepare yourself for
the life on an artist?
LaGuardia HS provided with excellent training for 4 years. I then went on to the Fine Arts Department at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.
Has it been easy or hard?
It has been hard in the sense that full-time jobs, as most people would expect, have the highest comfort level. You have a steady income and when you become older and start thinking of families, for instance I am now 27 years old and married, things like benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans begin to have more value.
Has it been extremely rewarding?
It is extremely rewarding to see your goals fulfilled. I create timelines for myself with different goals and try to tackle them one at a time. Each time I achieve one it does wonders for my morale and just makes me a happier and stronger person. Also rewarding are the opportunities I’ve had to meet amazing people who support my work, because, like me, they value culture. I keep finding members of a community of people who love our heritage, our music and our expressions. It’s wonderful to share my work with them and learn from what they have to share.
What inspires you?
My culture is my primary inspiration. I love it dearly and see so much value in even its negative aspects. I am amazed by how dark periods in history such as slavery and colonialism have brought forth such a beautifully complex and intricate system of traditions. Our spiritual beliefs are products of this. I am also inspired by music, another product of this. I never paint without music. I love Eddie Palmieri and Ray Barretto and would like to one day recreate their music on canvas, if that’s possible. These two musicians are incredible examples of the way that African, Indigenous and European elements can blend to create something that embodies who we are. That’s why I can assure you that a Puerto Rican or most Latinos or anyone of the African diaspora will have a difficult time sitting still during a Barretto or Palmieri Jam.
I’m also inspired by love and sacrifice and the understanding of how these two elements dictate the way I relate to my family and they relate to me, the way my parents relate to their own parents and the way traditions are passed down generations. Struggle is also a big inspiration for me. Many beautiful things come out of struggle and although this country likes to see poverty as the cause of many social “ills”, poverty is also the birthplace of amazing traditions and cultural inventions. As a Puerto Rican born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, I see elements of this in my language, my customs and beliefs. It inpsires me because I use my art to document these very valid, beautiful and historic experiences of our people.
In addition to the inspiration I receive for the content of
my work, my husband’s selflessness, patience and constant encouraging
of my work makes it much easier for me to keep doing what I do.
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