Evolution of Self

Reflection Pool Near Nogal Peak, 2010 Oil, spray paint, on paper and canvas 53 × 70 in 134.6 × 177.8 cm

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Where we are in the world has a great deal to do with how we view it. This pertains not only to our particular aesthetic sensibility that is very often influenced by where and how we may have been raised, but to our worldview as a whole. For someone growing up in the concrete jungle of the city, beauty may take on an entirely different meaning than it does for someone who lives among the forests and mountains of the Amazon. Our politics, our personalities, our very self is in part shaped by the places we live. These things can prove quite fluid as we evolve and migrate from place to place, taking in new sights and sounds, people and perspectives.

Juan Alonso-Rodriguez is a Cuban born artist living and working in Seattle, Washington. He is currently working in acrylic on unprimed canvas. He very much enjoys working with the color blue. These new works investigate flowing paint. Alonso-Rodriguez starts by working on a flat surface then relocates the work in progress to the wall to allow the paint to drip. Sometimes he needs to manipulate the canvas further to direct the flow of paint. For this reason the pieces are a modest 48″ x 48″. The unprimed canvas works well with the type of acrylic being used and while there are some drawbacks, Alonso-Rodriguez says there are quite a few advantages to leaving the canvas unprimed. The work is not intended for any particular exhibit at the moment though recently a collector purchased a few of the most recent pieces directly from the studio. After his former gallery representation closed permanently, Alonso-Rodriguez began delving further into public work which he had been creating in addition to his studio work already. For these works he feels the need to understand the underlying story of the people and places the work will be connected to. This process pulls him out of his studio mindset wherein he feels a “selfish” need to get something personally out of each piece. Public work will be appreciated and will affect a wider audience who will connect to the work in their own ways. Alonso-Rodriguez is on the roster of public artists for Washington State where he lives. When public spaces are built, 1% of the budget is allotted to art. From there artists are contacted from the roster and asked to submit proposals. The artist’s own journey to the US from Cuba in search of a better life informs much of his work. After losing his mother at an early age, Alonso-Rodriguez’s father sent him to the US at age nine. A desire to realize his father’s legacy and intention to give his son a better life by sending him to the US inform everything about his experience including his work. To hear more about some of Alonso-Rodriguez’s public works, his life as a Cuban immigrant, and more listen to the full interview here.

Paula Wilson lives and works in Carrizozo, New Mexico, a town of around 900 people in the high desert plains. As an artist living in this area, Wilson has been able to devote all of her time to her practice. Cost of living is extremely low and there is little to spend money on allowing Wilson and her partner, a woodworker, to live comfortably. Along with a community of other artists, Wilson helped begin an artist residency program. The residency remains intentionally small, with artists finding out about it primarily peer to peer. For resident artists there is studio space and housing for a span of two weeks to two months. The residency flows both ways in that artists coming in are able to live and work in a new and beautiful environment while the founders and year round resident artists of Carrizozo have the chance to bring in others to their small community. Wilson’s 5,000 square foot studio is a former Ford garage turned micro-brewery and finally art space. Being presently between shows, she is “welcoming a sense of play” and examining form and space rather than any sort of concrete concepts. Wilson has been working on muslin lately, creating monotype silkscreens and woodblock carvings as well as conceptualizing a video imagining the Yucca Moth. To hear more about her work and life in a remote corner of the New Mexico desert, listen to the full interview here.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

At no point should one consider their story concluded. There are always more places to see where our minds may be altered in ways we cannot begin to imagine from where we are standing today.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Beatrice Lebreton is reading The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Kathleen Trestka recommends Some Memories of Drawings by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Opportunities / Open Calls

MoMAZoZo invites artists to spend up to two months living and working in the small community of Carrizozo, New Mexico. Living space and studio facilities are provided, but artists are responsible for their own expenses and travel. For more information please visit the MoMAZoZo website.

Deadlines

Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

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