Angelina Diana is an Illinois-based artist whose work explores what she describes as a “yearning to express things that really meant a lot to me such as nostalgia, memories, family, and identity.” She is included in the group exhibition “Hispanic Heritage” at Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, OH, opening Friday, September 9. Recently graduated with a BFA from Northern Illinois University, I asked the artist a few questions about her practice, and about some of the realities of pursuing art as a student, and as a career.
What first inspired you to begin painting?
In the beginning of my undergraduate career, I was eagerly overwhelmed by the many different things to learn. Originally, I was in pursuit of an art education degree and it took several capstone projects to realize I wanted to further cultivate myself as an artist. This brought me to the path of painting. I was experimenting with different mediums for a while. My imagery went from representational to symbolic and then finally to abstract. I felt like I was fighting it for a while and I’m not sure why.
I feel that all of my experimenting in the studio lead me to the direction of what I am making now. I discovered Epoxy Resin. After many failed attempts I sought out advice from another artist whom was working with the same material and then I was able to hone my material and imagery.
In my last semester of my undergraduate career, I made a focused body of work that is essentially derived from the process itself. I start each piece with a gestural foundation with no particular end in mind. With a layer of resin, I seal the past markings and then build upon that. Working back and forth I try to blend the past characteristics with the future markings to make a unified environment. In essence, my work is based on cultivating an identity from a fixed past. Honestly, I felt like this was the start of my identity as an artist.
You’ve just earned your BFA (congratulations!) in 2015. What has been the biggest challenge for you since graduating college (professionally, creatively, etc.)? What do you feel has been your biggest success?
Since graduating, I felt that the most challenging part is continuing to make work. I was seldom making pieces, but I did find solace in sketching. It wasn’t that until Fall of 2015 is when I begun to start a routine again. I was accepted into an Artist- in-Residence program from a local gallery called Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin, IL. At the end of my residency I would be granted a solo exhibition. Having that goal really revived myself and helped push the development of my work. This past year held the most success! I’ve significantly grown more as an individual and as an artist.
What would you most like to accomplish?
My personal goals include: continuing to show/ and develop my work, translating my work into a different medium, making public art/installations. One day I hope to create projects that involve the community or run a platform that is accessible for the community to engage with local artists and their contemporary artwork (of all types).
Do you have any advice for students just starting out in an art program?
Some advice I wish I had known/learned the hard way that I’ll pass on for aspiring BFA students: stay true to yourself and what you want to communicate in your work. Work through your ideas even if it feels like a roadblock. They end up being the foundation for your future concepts. Keep creating in any shape or form. Collaborate with your peers. Go to exhibitions as often as possible. It’s important to support other people’s work and to engage with the dialouge. It’s also a good way to meet like-minded people. Pick the brains of your professors and colleagues. Go to artist lectures as much as possible! It’s truly inspiring to learn about an established artist’s concept and story. Submit to open calls for work as much as possible. If possible, activitey write or sketch your ideas. It’ll become a time capsule of who you were in that time. Residencies are great because you can realize your personal goal/project and connect to their local community. Last but not least, remember that success is different for many people.
More information on the work included above, and about the artist, can be found at angelinadianaartist.com.
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