We’d love to get to know you better. Tell us about your personal and artistic journey. How did you get to where you are today?
My work with public art started as a young kid. I volunteered, assisted, and eventually got to paint my own murals. The process of community art really influenced how I work. It engrained the idea of how art can be used as public service for disenfranchised communities all the while being aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking. For some time, I assisted several mural conservators in the restoration and repair of murals. We would drive around the city repairing murals, this was my first painting class. Repairing a mural was a way of deconstructing how an artist created a work of art and great way to learn their painting technique. I took over as lead mural conservation artist for a while but chose to go back to school and get my Associates at LBCC and undergraduate degree at CSULB. My time at school was valuable in being able to experiment and learn from professors and classmates. Along the way I got a lot of breaks professionally that let me prove myself in the work that I do. These have been due to the help and generosity of other artists, professors, and teachers. Watching how muralists work with communities and teach while they create a work of art, set a standard to how I want to be as an artist. I am currently working toward completing an art education credential and will be starting courses toward my MFA in the fall.
For those who aren't familiar with your work, can you describe it to us? Is there a general theme that ties your work together?
My work is how I process my understanding of the world. It is my vehicle for evaluating and applying what I learn from research, interviews, and observations. Each work that I do requires a visual response but it does not necessarily have to be a painting. Part of the joy of working on a new project comes from deciding which method of visual interpretation is most suitable for it. It can be digital, printmaking, realistic, impressionistic etc.. I really enjoy letting the concept dictate the execution. I have recently been working with themes of immigration, race, and how power structures effect distribution of resources on a local and national level.
I've seen that you've done a lot of community engagement through your work. How and when did that get started?
I worked around public art when I was young. My first experience was volunteering for artist Elliott Pinkney for a project at Orizaba Park when I was 15. This opportunity gave me a first hand look at what some artists do for a living. The experience sparked my curiosity about painting and how much fun it was to work on a project of such a large scale. I soon signed up for the Summer Youth Employment Program while in high school. SYETP was a summer program geared toward getting youth work experience while on the job. There were many jobs you could do with the city and I lucked out and ended up at the Mural Arts Program. There I learned how to design a mural, go through a critique, develop sketches for a design, and start to learn how to paint. I kept in touch with the organizer of the program and the mural art teachers. Whenever they would have a project in town I was always volunteering to help out.
You work with various mediums, which is your favorite and why? Acrylics would be my favorite medium because it was the first one I really got practice with. Learning how to work with acrylics came out of a practical use, it was inexpensive and available. Artists I assisted would give me the left over paints and color swatches. All of the paint I collected was used in all my easel painting and some mural projects. It is a challenging medium to work with but it is really compatible with my impatient working nature. Its quick drying time comes in handy when you have to fix mistakes.
You recently had some sketchbooks in our exhibition "The Sketchbook Show." Is a sketchbook a part of your process for painting and mural work? The sketchbook has always been an integral part of designing, planning, and developing concepts for everything I want to do. It's the place to sketch out ideas, mainly the one's that won't work. In my pocket I always carry a small soft cover sketchbook to jot down notes and drawings while running errands. My go to , which I usually have with me at all times, is my moleskin sketchbook that is in the current show. It's my "daily drawer", filled with notes and preliminary sketches. What is a typical studio day for you? There is no typical studio day for me as much as I would like. If I am in the middle of a project I tend to wake up at about 10 and usually get going around noon or 1pm. Much of the day is spent tidying up my workspace from the night before and responding to communications in one way or another. I work till about 5pm with a break for dinner. I head back to the studio around 6 until 10 which is when I would take a break to go to the gym for an hour. I end up working till about 4am. My schedule shifts constantly but I have been a lot more diligent about taking breaks and setting aside time to recharge. We are all currently under lockdown due to the cover-19 virus. Has your studio routine and creative process changed? These past couple weeks I have been focused on trying to set up a routine. Which involves getting dressed for work as if I am going to meet a client. Some days are better than others. Painting and drawing from studio felt like a solitary existence before, it definitely feels that way now. Which is why I have purposely been making time to check in with friends and loved ones. It really is important to see how everyone it doing.
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