Q.- Where do you live? How long have you been in Madison and why did you choose this city?
A.-I live in Madison. I have lived in this area since 2004. I moved here for graduate school at UW-Madison’s School of Social Work.
Q.- Before starting your great adventure as an artist, what was your daily world like (BEFORE)? What did you do? Where did you live?
A.-Before starting my adventure as an artist I was living in Sun Prairie, WI, single parenting my son who would have been about 14 years old at the time. I was working full-time at a new job as a Behavioral Health Therapist and recovering from an injury that I sustained while working as a server part-time.
Q.- What event, reason or motive prompted (catalyst) you to embark on this adventure of being an artist?
A.-Looking back at my life, I can see now that I have always been interested in art and creativity but for a long time I was insecure about my abilities. As a child, I thought that only the best artists should even try to do art. I remember watching a 20/20 special as a child about genius children who could play Mozart on the piano or who could paint like the artists whose work was in museums. That memory along with societal and familial messaging about art as a “not a serious” career or a career that wouldn’t make money all contributed to me feeling like I could explore my creative side beyond a fleeting interest or something I could do “‘for fun.”
It wasn’t until about 2011 that I realized that I was carrying these outdated, limiting beliefs. Sometimes our beliefs go unchecked for a long time and it isn’t until we spend time connecting with our deeper truths and hidden desires that we can see how our beliefs are holding us back. For me, my deeper truth and desire was to be an artist and live a creative life. Only then was I able to become aware of what was in the way of me really stepping fully into my creative identity as an artist. I will never forget the moment it all came together for me. I felt free and it felt like it came out of thin air, like a switch that turned on this magical flow of creative energy and it’s been on ever since.
Q.- Before embarking on the adventure of an artist, what made you doubt? What excuses or pretexts did you have in your mind?
A.-I touched on this in the last question.
Q.- Who was your mentor or tutor, someone who encouraged you, advised you, or oriented you to keep going?
A.-The first person I remember telling me that I was an artist was an old friend who said they described me to other people as an artist. I remember being shocked. This was something I never saw in myself. This was before I really started painting and drawing in an open way. This person said it was obvious in the way I dressed, decorated, wrote and thought.
The other person I remember is Paul Smith who recently passed away. I met him in 2011 through a mutual friend and a group of us would meet up at FairTrade Coffeehouse on State Street. We would draw, talk about life and about art. He was one of the biggest catalysts for me continuing down a path of becoming an artist because of how he responded to what I was making. We all need nurturing in the early years of taking a leap toward something that feels new or vulnerable and having not gone to art school, I didn’t have those experiences of teachers who could guide me, challenge me or root me on. Paul was always interested in what I was creating, what was driving me or who I was. He asked hard questions and shared his own experiences as well. He was an art teacher who lived and breathed art. It really shone through in how he nurtured my young artist self. I will never forget how his whole face would light up every single time I showed him something. I think my experiences with Paul were reparative to those early life experiences and to the little girl who didn’t believe in herself. Those experiences really allowed me to grow my confidence and eventually feel rooted in myself and in my own identity as an artist.
Q.- How long have you been painting? Why this art form and not another? At what age did you start painting?
A.- I don’t know the exact year when I really started focusing on painting with watercolors. When I first started really exploring in 2011, I was trying out every type of medium. I started with ink, oil pastels, markers and colored pencils. Eventually, my mom’s husband, also an artist, donated all of his art supplies to me as he was embarking on a different focus. I felt so fortunate to have access to almost every type of medium. Money was tight at the time so this really allowed me to explore at a faster pace until I found watercolors. Eventually it became the medium I used the most but I also LOVE oil pastels. They are just messier and not as easy to use in public spaces which is where I almost always made art prior to the pandemic. Additionally, watercolors were affordable in comparison to many other colorful mediums and color is important to what excites me.
Q.- What are your themes?
A.- When I first started my themes were primarily flowers and objects in my environment. I just wanted to create from a place of curiosity and play. I didn’t worry too much about being precise or having a specific subject matter. My feeling was that I wanted art to be something that made me enjoy life and that would allow me to heal. I was in a lot of pain at the time, I was newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia and went from being a very active and athletic person to not being able to tolerate much exercise without being on the floor in pain. Art became a new way of focusing my energy and processing emotions. I also think it helped distract me from the pain because it put me in a more meditative state, in my right brain and/or in a flow state.
I have gone through many different phases of subject matter since then, I spent years painting baby elephants who were typically colorful and surrounded by flowers to other times when I painted buddhist statues during a time when I was immersed in meditation practices and deep into my spiritual journey. After that my subject matter broadened to be more focused on what my loved ones enjoyed or an animal I was drawn to at the time. In the past 5 years, I have started to really question what I want to focus on in more conscious and vulnerable ways. For a long time now I’ve been very comfortable being vulnerable and open about who I am but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I wasn’t being as open and vulnerable through my art. I don’t think it’s a requirement in order to call yourself an artist, some of the most beautiful art in the world isn’t obviously vulnerable but for me, at this point in my journey and at this point in my healing, it feels like it’s time.
Since about 2020, I started putting myself more openly and consciously into my paintings and writing about each piece, what I was going through or what my reflection was after creating it. I have also been working on a body of work that tells the story of my family, my heritage, my identity, my ancestral roots and my familial wounds, traumas as well as triumphs and strengths. This will be an ongoing project for the next couple of years but the beginnings have been created and can be viewed on my instagram page. Some examples are: “The Little One Inside”, “Nicaragua”, “Jessica” and “Rooted.”
Q.- Where does your inspiration come from? inspirations? Why you paint?
A.-The drive to paint comes from a place inside. It’s like “I can’t NOT paint.” It feels like a natural impulse like breathing or laughing. The reason I paint is very simple: I love it! LOL it energizes me, lights me up and makes me feel happy and fulfilled.
Q.- How do you connect to the fourth dimension? Method if any (meditation, etc)
A.-(If you mean spiritually:) This has changed a lot over the past few years. A few years ago I would have said meditation, daily conversation with “God” before bed, asking “God” for guidance. In more recent years, I have shifted to focusing on gratitude for the love I have in my life, the smile on my husband’s face, my son laughing in his room, my best friend laugh-crying when we are going through it…I feel the divine or connection with a higher realm in these moments of connection with those I love. It’s not that I don’t meditate anymore, because I do, but I find more of that spiritual connection in relationships with others now.
Q.- What do you want and hope to convey with your art/work?
A.-For a long time my answer was simple, I just wanted to inspire people and to remind them of the beauty in the world and in themselves.
Right now that still holds true but there is more. I am the daughter of an immigrant mother who was forced to leave her home and come to a new country, with a language she didn’t understand and surrounded by people she didn’t know, she didn’t even know her own family. The community was primarily of european descent, which visibly and culturally were very different from her. She experienced a long list of painful and traumatic experiences during that time.
I grew up in that same town without knowing my father and endured a long string of abuses from sexual abuse to intimate partner violence to race based bullying among many other traumas. There were no other indigenous latinos/-as/-xs/es in our small town, there was no one who looked like me or who had a similar background, my family didn’t talk about our identity, culture or background much, I really didn’t have a sense of who I was in a positive way. So much of my identity was not in celebrating it, it was more about hiding and fitting in so that I didn’t draw too much attention to myself in negative ways. It wasn’t until the past 5-7 years that I was truly ready to face the impact of the more identity level trauma and pain that my family went through and that I went through.
I say all of this to say that I want someone who went through what I went through, what my mother went through, what my family went through, to see themselves in my work and to feel less alone or to feel inspired to heal their own pain or to feel inspired to tell their story through art. I want those who have been historically underrepresented in art to see themselves represented. I want those like me or my family to feel seen, understood and less alone. I also have been healing through this process and want to continue to heal along the way. That’s why this project has been happening over a long period of time and will continue to unfold over the next few years. It’s painful to look at it all, there are a lot of therapy sessions that occur while I’m working on a piece and processing that occurs with loved ones, a lot of tears that are shed. It’s hard but it’s worth it because I feel lighter and lighter, more confident and rooted and more myself than I ever have. I also feel like I’m no longer hiding. There are more steps to take but it’s been worth every single step I’ve taken so far.
Q.- What is the piece that has represented you the most or still represents you?Which of your works is your favorite?
A.-I don’t have one that represents me the most because each piece represents me the most at the time I created it. The one that makes me the most emotional and makes me feel like it captures a lot of what I spoke to in the more recent questions I answered above is “Rooted.”
Q.- What exhibitions or events have you recently participated in?
A.-In November of 2021 I participated in Gallery Night at Alvarado Real Estate Group and recently created part of the book cover for Sara Alvarado’s new book that will debut in March of this year.
Q.- Are you working on any project right now? Do you have ideas for the future?
A.-Right now I am finishing up a commission project for someone. I also have a piece that tells the story of my mother’s experience of being in the earthquake of 1972 in Nicaragua. I have taken a break from it for a while but plan to work on it again soon.
Q.- What other art forms have a big impact on your own art?
A.-Music. I wouldn’t be where I am without music.
Q.-Is being an artist a job? Do you do other jobs?
A.-yes definitely. It’s my part-time “job” although it never feels like work. In my full-time job I work as a Behavioral Health Clinical Supervisor and Therapist with young people.
Q.-At this point in your life, what do you want most as an artist? Do you think that art is positive as therapy and cure?
A.-I want to make art as much as possible. The process of making art is the best part of being an artist for me.
Q.-What are the requirements to be an artist? Vocation?
A.-This answer may be different for everyone. What comes to me first is: To be an artist is to feel it inside. Then, it is to allow it to emerge in the way(s) it wants to come out. Then, there is the action of making the art. If someone wants to make it a vocation, there is learning the business side of it and learning to network with other artists, learning to market yourself, learning to put yourself out there and investing in both yourself, your work and your business.
Q.- What kind of support do you receive from the city where you live to be an artist? If Any?
A.-I’m not sure I understand the questions exactly. I will answer in the way I think you might be asking. I receive support from those who orchestrate the events and who reach out or create opportunities to apply for an event. I do find myself aware that I wish art would be more nourished by our state and city and that there were more opportunities to work as an artist without having to be in business for yourself.
Q.-What kind of support would you like to see and receive from the city? And why is this important for the city and community?
A.-More art related jobs, more funding for art centered programs, more art programming in schools, more art related and art business related education that is affordable and accessible, more visual art in public spaces and a more colorful city: the streets, the signs, the street lights, sides of buildings, the homes.
Q.- What is your direct or indirect involvement with the Latino community?
A.-My first experience feeling a sense of belonging in the Latino/x/e community was when Araceli Esparza asked me to participate in the Latinx Art Festival and to do an art talk a couple of years ago. I have made so many positive connections with new friends and other artists as well as events that center latinx voices. I also will be participating in the Latino Art Fair at the Overture Center on 3/3 as you know.