October 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
I have always been fascinated by people on the move. People ‘going places.’ Always focused on the ‘getting there’ instead of enjoying the ride. There is something about the rush of their walking that reminds me the busy movement of ants. People are always on the move: nomads, immigrants, workers, tourists…They are always trying to go somewhere else, a better place perhaps? A place where they can grow, relax, be happy? Although the picture was taken in 2011(with a film camera from the early ‘60s), it presents an image that transcends time, that repeats itself over and over… A timeless movement.
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.
October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Banquet. Courtesy of the Artist & Praxis International. C-print: 20 in x 30 in, 50.8 cm x 76.2 cm, 2012. Lina’s Botanical Garden. Courtesy of the Artist & Praxis International. C-print: 20 in x 30 in, 50.8 cm x 76.2 cm, 2012.
I choose to look through the lens in order to see. The language of photography helps me understand how I position myself in the world, where I have come from and where I might go next. In my pictures I am exploring psychological impressions of my life of “Being Solo” in New York. I create these portrait scenes that translate the processes and obsessions I go trough my life here with the uncertain hope of bringing some light of understanding to myself. I collaborate with artist friends. The resulting images reveal my vision of the life inside the artwork of women artists, both revealing the now. Lina Puerta exposing our lack of nature in the city creating her secret garden, and Maria Berrio living in a banquet of flowers, fruits and butterflies.
October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
My works are works of love, of fantasy, and magical realism. “La Cena” is a careful assemblage of paint, watercolor, and torn papers from various parts of the globe, in an attempt to reflect the piecemeal way we construct snippets of memories when we paint, to form a visual representation of the ethereal mental quilts we sew together when we remember a symbolic moment. “La Cena” reflects my memories of a South American dinner: a Sunday feast with excessive amounts of food. The sound of loud voices mixed with background music. The indescribable smell of home. The feeling of sharing of magic and love, symbolized by yellow butterflies flying around the table. The rawness of foods grown in our own farms, excess of fruits and fish and a table invaded with infinite vivid colors. That was a dinner for me, a Sunday ritual in which we all came together to seize the day, to celebrate love, life, food and family.
October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
This work was inspired by personal research on social conflict and resolution throughout South America, Africa and the United States. A common finding noted throughout my travels is the resiliency of children in the face of tremendous social and political disruptions. They simply want to play, smile, imagine and enjoy the simple pleasures of innocence and childhood. This work depicts children playing football despite the ever present gaze of the State, shown in the guise of the police, the Church, and the military. It is dedicated to “los desaparecidos” of Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil and Sierra Leone.
AR-L: Would you please tell us about the various other projects you’ve been involved in during the past months? I know you started your new business and would like for you to tell us more about that…
NC: 2012 has been absolutely wonderful for me professionally. At the onset of the year, I incorporated my studio in Hong Kong and hired an assistant to help handle projects and source materials in the Asia-Pacific region. Being in Asia has allowed me to work with newer materials such as fiberglass and neon that would be cost-prohibitive for an artist such as myself, so I am adding a wider array of works to the mix for future projects. Specifically, Hong Kong is a great location as it is currently the third largest art market in the world, with easy access to clients in high-growth economies such as China and Indonesia. In the last three month my work has been shown in Chicago, Paris, Hong Kong, New York and of course, Philadelphia, and for two of those shows I had added neon sculptures to the mix of my traditional painting work.
AR-L: Your piece for the Diálogo 465: CARPE DIEM exhibition is about one of the harsher realities of life in Latin American, and I was hoping you’d tell us more about how you came up with the idea for it, what sort of research or travels led you to envision it, etc.
NC: My first proposal for Diálogo 365 was a bit different from the work that was accepted and currently on displayed in City Hall. My work dealing with Latin America usually contains overt political imagery, however I was compelled to think outside of my traditional theoretical paradigm. I came across a book of aphorisms, Gregurías by Ramón Gómez de la Serna and found this quote, “Los globos de los niños van por la calle muertos de miedo” and the inspiration came. The quote tied in with research of the Trujillo, Videla, Franco, and Stroessner dictatorships that I have incorporated in various paintings and writing over the years. In addition, this work was also informed by personal conversations with survivors of the Videla dictatorship in Argentina, whom remembered vividly how the young children of Buenos Aires maintained their innocence and ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood amidst all the chaos.
AR-L: What can you tell our readers about the relationship, if you perceive any, between your career of an artist and your experience as a Latino working internationally.
NC: Being a latino living in Asia from the last two years has definitely been a unique experience. There are only about 4 other latino visual artists in Hong Kong and I am the only Puerto Rican, so every conversation I have with the Chinese is an adventure filled with broken English and lots of hand gestures. Being different in appearance from others in Hong Kong helps in a sense because people are naturally curious to know what I am doing in Asia, which allows me the opportunity to introduce them to my work and engage them in dialogue. Outside the novelty of my ethnicity, art is universal and has its own visual vocabulary. I am not hindered in the same regard that, lets say, a musician would be in terms of language. Leaving North America was one of the best decisions that I made in my profesional career. It is has been said, “No one is a prophet in their own land”.
AR-L: Are there any current or upcoming projects you want to tell us about?
NC: I will featuring new works in neon and fiberglass at the Asia Contemporary Art Show in February 2013 at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong. Neon has been my favorite medium of late and I am working on building up a series of 5-6 different works for the show. Outside of that, I will be having my first official gallery show in Hong Kong in March of 2013 during the period of Art Walk, which is one of the premium art events in Hong Kong. In addition, there are preliminary talks to open a 6 month annex of my taller in Shanghai in the second quarter of 2013, which is excited for me because, in my opinion, Shanghai is the most dynamic city in the world for artists at the moment. Big plans for the new year. ¡Ojalá!
AR-L: Since another of the “carpe diem” themes is the idea of the harvest: is there a favorite recipe you’d like to share with us?
NC: Such a fun question. I am vegetarian so my recipe will probably not be as exciting as others but here goes:
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups greek yogurt
- some chopped fresh dill
- fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 cucumber diced
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons crushed dried rose petals (yum!)
- 3 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
And ta-dah: you have some epic Persian Yogurt Dip that goes perfectly with just about ANYTHING! ¡Pa’lante!
October 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
Ochún, Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre & San Sebastián
These Santos are intermediaries with the power to communicate with God on behalf of their devotees. Believers may ask a saint to help cure an illness, bring consolation, or avert a disaster. A saint’s power, in turn, arises from his or her ability to perform requested favors or miracles. They represent the aspirations and devotions of devotees to make unique spiritual and religious devotion. Saints might be asked to help bring about physical healing or spiritual consolation, to help one find a mate, or to ensure the safe return of a loved one. Saints are rewarded for favors granted with modest offerings of candles, incense, flowers and “milagros”. They traditionally fulfilled their mission as spiritual intercessors.The figure’s clothing and pose, as well as its attributes – the symbols associated with a particular saint such as flowers, swords, chalices, keys, or wings – can provide clues to their specific identity. The plastic bag protects the Santo from the outside elements, The asphyxiation and objectification of the saints brings them back into the human realm. Human capabilities take back control. An experiment with a new visual language that effectively reinterprets traditional imagery into a new light, that explores the notion of spiritual ambivalence.
October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
As a collaborative artist team, our focus is to depict the plight of Hispanic migrant workers in the U.S. Our artwork, usually large mural-scale paintings and sculptures, are portraits of farm workers, people of all ages including the elderly and young children. The majority of pickers are undocumented immigrants from Mexico or other Latin American countries that usually leave their homeland in a search for security and better living. This work aims to capture the essence of human nature and express the struggle of society to improve living conditions. Art is our tool to bring some sense of social justice to the life of individuals that are invisible in our society.