In my neighborhood and the places I frequent in the Bronx, which are dominantly black and latinx, art is seen as an exclusively white male thing. And what I mean by that is there’s this belief that no matter how talented you are, only white people can be successful artists/creatives. Especially if you’re a cis, straight, able, white man. It’s kind of frowned upon, where I’m from, to pursue the arts. A lot of the time, people think you are/will be a deadbeat and/or a criminal if you’re a creative. It’s not really seen as something realistic here. And as a womxn, I constantly hear that people refuse to invest their time and/or money in what we create because we’re just not interesting enough. People also love to police what womxn can create. If you’re a woc in the lgbtq+ spectrum, well, there’s even more policing and judgment. So as a queer person of color who is in a constant battle with their mental health, I feel it’s important to create because it’s a beautiful act of rebellion. It goes against our many stereotypes, our many stigmas that surround us, and it goes completely against everything we’re told we cannot do. Through creation, we break our own boundaries and throw the first stone at the walls that confine others like us.
My proudest moment as an artist was when my niece told me she wanted to be an artist like me. She’s about to be four so I know that’s not set in stone, but, it’s important for children to see themselves in others…to see that they can pursue whatever they want. There isn’t much representation of people of color in the media so I feel that it’s important for my lil noodle to see herself through her kin. I need her to know she can be whoever she wants. I know that’s not a professional moment, but, I’ve never felt more proud to be an artist. I feel like if my niece wants to be a little like me, then I’m definitely doing something right.
I first learned love through my mother. So I guess, for me, love is going hungry to feed your kids. Waking up everyday, with all the pain in your body, to go to work to have enough money to keep a roof over your kids heads, keep food in their plates, keep them clothed, show that they’re loved, etc. Love is laughing and crying together, understanding and accepting each other as we are, holding hands while crossing the street, eating ice cream together at the park, holding all the big heavy bags because your entire body hurts, holding our own weight but knowing that if we need help we can find it in each other, talking about our favorite things together like movies and how much you like Thor, being there in the best and worst times, and not enabling negative habits.
The space I create in is very unspectacular at the moment hahaha. It’s my room which is shared with my sister. We’re trying to figure out a style for the room that we’re both happy with. So until then, it’s white walls, a black floor, a plain metal bunk bed, and a white table loaded with piles of papers, books, and art supplies.
What I listen to while I create usually depends on my mood. Sometimes I listen to music, but, it’s not usually the same artists. Most of the time though, I keep the TV on and listen to that while I work. I think maybe since I come from a big family, it’s comforting to hear people talking in the background? I don’t know hahah.
When I’m upset, I tend to draw some pretty terrible self portraits.
I try to do most of my work on my days off. I also try to cloeate a little before going anywhere and after coming home. Sometimes I wake up extra early and give myself a half hour or a full hour to continue working on a piece and take a nap until it’s time to leave the house. Sometimes I draw while I’m eating. I just take whatever time I can get to work on my art.
I remember before I started pre k, my mom was a house wife. One of the things we would do for fun was make art together. We either had a big book or several books of arts and craft projects or several big books; I can’t remember…but she would let me pick whichever project I wanted us to do and that was our art of the day. She displayed everything we made on the fridge and on the walls of our rooms.
Embrace who you are and who you’re becoming and don’t be afraid to incorporate that into what you create. Never stop learning and developing your craft. Be patient with yourself because most things don’t happen right away. Remember that what you do has value and don’t settle for less than what you deserve.
I like to say that I come from a family of Latina warriors because we are mostly womxn. Their ferocity, kindness, determination, femininity, and resilience keeps my creativity flowing. My family inspires me to continue creating and pursue what we’re told is impossible for us.
My sister, Kariadys, is a singer/songwriter. She’s my biggest artistic inspiration and, sometimes, my muse. I have so many pieces inspired by her. I’ve never met anyone more passionate about what they do. It makes me feel so happy and so motivated to create when I hear her sing and see/hear her working hard to finish a song. I always say it; she’s made of light.
Art is creative creation.
Art is the place I go to when I don’t feel safe, my happiest and saddest memories, my closest friend.