Susana Amundaraín (Venezuela)
October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
I have always associated ‘Carpe Diem’ with the experience of the ephemeral. Thinking in more visual terms: now you see it, now you do not. Like a reflection on the surface of a pond or on a quiet body of water, I find those fleeting moments to be like a magical illusion, at which point I stop just to contemplate a mirrored image, the most elusive in nature. This painting borrows the mirror metaphor, and allows us to catch a glimpse of light, maybe a fragment of our own reflection just for that instant when we face the mica surface. The use of mica has been fairly constant in my mixed media work, since I am always attracted to its reflective qualities and the strength they have behind their fragile appearance.
AR-L: Would you please tell us about the various other projects you’ve been involved in during the past months as a theatre professional? I understand you were working on an opera with your husband and was hoping you’d tell us more about that.
SA: Thanks for bringing this up! It seem like I’ve been living in parallel dimensions over the years, and somehow, over the past few months these different, but related, categories seem to want to merge into a more unified body of work. About the opera, this year I’ve been writing the libretto for a new chamber piece, to which my husband, composer Efraín Amaya, is writing the music. It’s actually our third operatic adventure and collaboration. We had such a great experience with the previous ones that we felt enthusiastic and excited with the idea of creating another piece. This particular work has a lot of connections with the art world and some of its history. It’s inspired on a period in the life of Joan Miró, the renowned Spanish artist, whom I have admired for years. We are starting with the first steps of the production process, with the intention to have a premiere here in Philadelphia next year! I am also finishing up another project with a great poet friend of mine, Carol Ciavonne, in the form of a book (“Birdhouse Dialogues”) beautifully designed by Vanessa Briceno, who is also in our collaborative team. This is a work of true dialogue between a poem Carol wrote years ago and drawings I did in response to her text, she then responded, many years later, to the series of drawings with a new set of poetry. Of course I couldn’t help but answer to these with a renewed sense of conversation. Then in the field of contemporary dance-theatre, but also interwoven with these processes of collaboration, is my work with André Koslowski, director of Pennsylvania Dance Theatre, with whom I’ve been working over the last seven years as their scenic designer. Right now there is a new piece in the making; as usual the initial stages are full of research and conversation! I feel extremely fortunate to have the privilege of working with such talented artists in so many diverse fields, covering and exploring such a wide variety of creative expressions, but I also feel very fortunate to count them as my friends.
AR-L: Your pieces for the Diálogo 465: CARPE DIEM exhibition are about reflection/s in some ways, and I was hoping you’d tell us more about them.
SA: Over the summer, as I was writing for the opera piece, I was also contemplating the idea of Carpe Diem and how to approach it as a piece to be experienced within the concept of the fleeting moment. I had just returned from Yaddo, where we were doing a residency, and over there, I had walked countless times by the four lakes located on their grounds. They were charged with symbolism, history and the memory of the owners’ four children, who all died in their childhood, making them a precious example of how ephemeral human life is. We tend to notice better when we see a young life go so quickly. The lakes were beautiful, calm, and almost enchanted. It was obvious that the reflection on their surfaces, of the surrounding forest we all saw everyday, was a sound metaphor for the illusory and transient nature of all things. When I came back to my studio, I realized that a painting I was working on was almost complete; it just lacked a reflective element. I found this element in the surface of micas that I had been collecting. So it became the piece for Carpe Diem! As with the surface of ponds, the fleeting reflection on the surface of micas was enough to experience and reflect on the transient quality of any given moment. The paintings “Light Catcher” and “Light Pod” were completed with this same principle in mind.
AR-L: Would you like to tell us something about your current projects as an art educator?
SA: I have been teaching art over twenty-five years now, so I truly consider art education, especially at a college level, an area that has been integral to the development of the work I do. Currently, I am a Senior Lecturer in Art at Chatham University. Over the last few years my courses, which emphasize 2D studio work, have transformed into a new format: the hybrid course. In these there’s a lot of interaction online, based on guided projects, forums and assignments, but also in-person sessions of thorough critiques and feedback. These classes are meant as an in-depth exploration of various concepts, both formal and philosophical, in relation to each student’s individual background and visual language development. The classes are intended to develop a student’s awareness of the creative process and how it helps us understand ways that different fields connect with one another. I certainly know I have become aware of that interconnectedness while teaching, sharing ideas, experiences and information gathered around the complexities of the art world we live in today.
AR-L: Are there any current and/or upcoming projects you want to tell us about?
SA: Yes! Besides the current “Carpe Diem” exhibition at City Hall, I am happy to say that I am in the initial stages of preparations for a solo show at the Crane Art Project Room next year with you as its curator.
Some of us from this show have just been recently invited to participate in an upcoming episode of Puerto Rican Panorama with Diego Castellanos. This, I’m sure, will be a unique opportunity to present and share some of our work, as well as experiences regarding this project by Casa de Venezuela.
AR-L: Since another of the “carpe diem” themes is the idea of the harvest: is there a favorite Fall recipe you’d like to share with us?
SA: Oh! Absolutely!! This is my version of Winter Squash Soup:
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cups chopped yellow onions (1 onions)
- 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
- 1 medium potato, peeled and cut in slices or chunks
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or made with vegan vegetable bouillion
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of curry
- ¼ cup of maple syrup
- 2/3 cup of rice milk
Heat the oil in a stockpot, add the onions, and cook over medium – low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the butternut squash, potato chicken or vegetable stock, salt, pepper and curry. Cover and simmer over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, add maple syrup and continue simmering over low heat for another 10 minutes or until the butternut squash and potato are very tender. Process the mixture in a blender with the rice milk. Return to the pot. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and pepper as wanted. You can garnish with a spoon of sour cream or with two slices of banana.