Can you tell me a little bit about you?
Based in Boston. I’m currently finishing the MFA program at Mass. College of Art and Design.
I have a BFA in Painting and Drawing with a Writing minor from the University of North Texas. Writing has informed so much of my practice as an artist and my paintings usually show this inspiration. I commonly transcribe my favorite words or passages from readings directly into my work.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
When I was in high school, I took it accidentally trying to get into a theater class. It was the first time that I learned art could be about ideas and deeper things rather than just direct imitation of what was visible. It was also the first time I was encouraged to be myself and make things that I wanted to make. There is something really empowering about hearing this as a kid, especially as an older kid feeling the weight of societal expectations and so on. From this first art class on, I knew that I couldn’t help but do this forever.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I work out of an old distillery near the seaport district in Boston.
In the space there are artists and creatives living and working there. I love the little buzz of artists coming and going on weekends when they are off of their full-time jobs. I’m inspired by their dedication to their practice and it reminds me that people are making things all around me if I would just take a moment and look around.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I am interested in the ideas of ancestors and history. Memory and its obstructions like language, mortality and grief. As a fourth generation immigrant and hearing the immigrant and refugee stories all around me in Boston, I often wonder about my families journey to America. Not even my oldest relatives quite remember the struggles, and stories of the relatives before them but somehow I am here. My work employs materials to symbolize the barriers and connections we have as family and new families.
What is your process like?
I read a lot. Ideas come almost always after reading a really good book or poem. I sometimes feel that the the only response to good art is more good art, whether writing, visual or musical etc.
One artist that always gets me to the studio is Frank Ocean, a recording artist that lived in NYC, I think.
Pieces come to life after several weeks sometimes but its always changing. I enjoy working on several at once. I am currently in process of 3-4.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I am simultaneously working within the realms of grief/loss and displaced persons/language. Reading George Saunders book Lincoln in the Bardo, really put my on this path of trying to understand what the afterlife could be. I really feel the freedom to imagine this and create work about it.
The writings of Junot Diaz and Luis Alberto Urrea and favorites of my mine right now and I begin to understand more and more the loves of first generation immigrants and the ways they work and prepare a place for new generations.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I can’t think of anything in particular but the life of someone who dedicates their life to art is pretty weird in general. Art school is full of effortlessly strange and beautiful people.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I choose to stay with my children during the days. Their open minds refresh mine. It’s easy to get bogged down with what is right or wrong in art. They remind me to stay true to myself. Making things with them is always just an inspiring time. They are really young and haven’t yet felt the pressures to be one way or the other. This helps them make decisions vibrantly and with abandon, especially creative decisions, I love that and need it.
My studio is not at home and this is for the best. My head and work space requires solitude most of the time.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
My MFA program requires that we request a mentor for Fall and Spring semesters. This has really pushed me out of my comfort zone to approach writers, curators and artists that I admire, so that I could open myself up and receive feedback and critique.
I am currently working with Martha Tuttle, an artist out of Brooklyn. We are on outset of this mentor relationship and I really look forward to working with her. She is a big influence of mine.
My all time favorite advice is the Gillian Welch song ‘Everything is Free’
Here is a snippet:
“Everything is free now
That’s what they say
Everything I ever done
Gotta give it away
Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
They we’re gonna do it anyway
Even if doesn’t pay”
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Right now, I’d say to an artist make something that’s personal. Don’t just make something beautiful or trending if it has nothing to do with you. It will feel empty and confusing, even if it makes you money.
If you really want to make art, make something that reflects your experience and your humanity, and the beauty will surface.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
It definitely helps to have a community both spiritual and creative, since the creative and the spiritual are inseparable for me.
I would say it is necessary even if you can count everyone on one hand.
What is your studio like?
Cozy at the moment. Some friends from my MFA program and I snagged it because it was fairly affordable. If you know anything about Boston, you know how expensive it can be. But we are happy in there just working away.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
It helps to go as soon as I was up. Listening to Rex Orange County really helps on the drive there. His lyrics are moody but the music is so jovial and optimistic. I hear all the subtleties in his songs and I feel somewhat invincible. I’m jamming to him right now.
Podcasts are difficult for me to hone in on, but I do enjoy them for their ASMR qualities.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I think it’s different for everyone. I decided to start the MFA program at Mass. College of Art and Design because we had moved to Boston just two years prior. The arts community was a tough one to discover and network in from the outside. I think if you are surrounded by a community, inspiration and time/space for your work, an MFA might not be necessary. No one know better than you.
Frances Stark has a photo that shows jacket with “Drop out of art school” inscribed on it. You could listen to her if you start one and hate it, i guess. She seems to be doing okay and making powerful work. I would trust her.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The overwhelming information and social media all around you can be distracting from an artistic practice. Social media is so hard to navigate.It makes me understand the artists who need to isolate for weeks at a time and choose not to have those types of platforms.
Specifically with Instagram, it can be such an inspiring and motivating place one day and the next day you can be a harsh critic to yourself based on someone else successes that you are seeing. Getting over those roadblocks is the real challenge.
How would you define “success” in art?
Making something that at the end of the day, truly has meaning and beauty for you or someone you love.
Being free from making things to solely please others.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I’d say the most exciting thing has been the revelation that I can make work about whats around and inside of me. That art is a language I cannot unspeak.
I felt so bogged down by the idea that I needed to have a certain lifestyle or live somewhere else to truly make the best work I could or to make work at all.
Our lives are so rich and unique, even if we don’t see them that way. So coming to this understanding free’d me up to take more risks with what I have and know.
A professor in my undergrad, Annette Lawrence, once had a quote on her door that said “You don’t have to know everything, but you have to use everything you know.”
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
Not currently. When I was finishing up my undergrad in Texas, I organized and curated an exhibit with some of my favorites in my class that were all off to grad school. I was afraid I wouldn’t see them or their work again so I set something up. I’d love to do more projects like that once I get more settled here in Boston.
What are you working on right now?
A series of assemblages. I am painting and using some personal materials, clothing, reusable materials, as well.
Anything else you would like to add?
Nope. thanks for everything you do!
Choosing to be a person that professionally appreciates and tries to understand the art of others and share it is such an important role to play in the lives of creatives and non-creatives.