Interview by Harmony Sunshine
Pictures by Diego Ortiz
Tell us about your work, how did it first come about and how has it evolved over time ?
Creativity has been the thread that weaves my story for as long as I can remember. I started my creative career in the design industry but after a short time, the designs around me and even my own, were beginning to look and feel redundant. I noticed that by trying to make something new and exciting, we as artists often get further away from our true selves. Not to mention, Columbians as a collective have had a continuous identity crisis. There are so many clashing cultural differences in such a small space that it can get pretty overwhelming, especially when trying to create from a place of authenticity. So I began a quest of simplicity, a quest of peeling the layers off of my own identity. This quest has led me to where I am now, to a starting point of nothingness. It is from formlessness that I have the freedom to explore different forms.
Where do you find yourself at this stage of your creative process ?
I always feel like I am starting, as if every moment is yet another beginning. And while I can acknowledge that every choice has led me to where I am now, I feel this is only the start. I am currently shifting from personal projects to teaching workshops and integrating art education into more of a ritual style practice.
What is the process of creation when you use natural elements?
This is a very important part of my work. I began looking to nature because I felt that most of the artists, myself included, were pulling from the same places for inspiration. When it comes to creative ideas and inspiring places to look, Google gets old. I believe Earth is the only infinite source of creativity. So I begin by going out into the Nature around me and then reminding myself that I am not on this land, instead I am this land. I allow myself to become one with nature, remembering that dirt is not something to be afraid of or grossed out by. We come from the Earth, created by the same artist who created Mother Earth. I allow my intuition to guide me without putting up any walls or boundaries. Instead of using the materials, I think of it as becoming a part of them. I work with everything, whatever I am drawn to on the land.
Where do you pull inspiration from?
10 years ago I had an epiphany about mud, which motivated me to look to the Earth and natural elements for inspiration. Ironically it happened while I was hiking in the jungle of Costa Rica. I was about to cross through wet mud and felt very triggered by this task. I realized that I was really resistant towards the idea of getting “dirty.” Then suddenly it hit me; I was feeling afraid of the very stuff I am made of. All along I had a fear of being “contaminated” by what was truly real. After feeling this connectedness, Mother Earth became my greatest teacher and inspiration. Alongside nature, I often look to artisans, humans and cultures that are in touch with the inherent ecstaticness of existence. I guess you could say that any human who acts humanly inspires me. I try to find ways to emulate that energy of vitality through my work so that the person perceiving the art will potentially feel a sense of familiarity that ignites the same wild spark within themselves. You will never find me buying materials from stores. If ever I want an item that isn’t 100% naturally occurring I go on an intuitive quest for locally hand made things. This is where I learn from local artisans, gathering hand crafted art to use in my own unique way. I believe that those types of items hold so much ancient wisdom. The energy you put into your art, as well as anything in life, is what you will get out of it.
What do you want your art to inspire in the world?
I want my art to inspire the movement of seeing value in different ways, to empower people to tap into another way of looking at life. I aspire to create art that ignites people’s curiosity, to question the ways we’ve been madly conditioned. I want my art to remind people there is nothing gross about connecting with the real natural world. I want people to remember their truth when they perceive these works of creativity.
Where do you start when you begin a new project?
I like to allow myself infinite creative freedom within my projects, which means I have to be very organized from the start. What I mean by this is in order to give myself space to be chaotic and fluid, the structural foundation has to be strong enough to hold me in that space. So I begin with a new notebook specifically chosen for the new project. The first page is always for brainstorming and thought dumping until my mind is clear. Then I go back and reflect, choosing the ideas that really stick out to me. From there I begin an in-depth investigation of those key ideas. Once the deep dive is complete, I narrow it down to the one idea that resonates most. This becomes my new project. To close out the beginning stage, I use a blank white page (I absolutely love white pages, they excite me more than anything else) to make a well informed prototype of the new project.
What are some tips for the creative process?
Firstly, I advise you to understand the greatest paradox of creative living; as individuals, we must remember and honor human equality and our deep connectedness while simultaneously coming into our own uniqueness and individuality. The way I have learned to do this is by joining the cause of remembrance from my very own creative position.
There are 10 insights that I share with the workshop participants, they go as follows:
Flow - a state of surrender when you are comfortable with the chaos of exploring the unknown.
Aesthetic - there are two things that create the aesthetic; emotion and intellect. How does this make someone feel? How does this make someone think?
Intention - the intention can be felt even with a jaded perspective. It's energetic
Curiosity - be willing, ready and excited to learn from the creative process
Movement- stagnant energy can stay dormant and build up over time, affecting your flow. So shake it out. Also find movement within your art, as if it's an entire dimension of emotion, intellect and expression.
Imagination-go into your work through the eyes of a child
Death - be prepared for you and your art to go through life cycles in the process. Oftentimes an idea must die in order to have space for a new one to be born. Also, know this, when you release your art into the world you must fully release it. It is no longer yours to hold onto. This is another form of death.
Action -Don’t get caught up in the thinking part, just start using your materials and hands to flow with whatever want to flow.
Rebellion - you need to be a little rebellious to be creative and to stand up for your ideas and keep going when people try to discourage you.
Improv - First anchor into your masculine energy and create a safe space of stability for the improvisation to move. This is a state of allowing the feminine energy to release and flow into creative chaos.
How was the experience of bringing your work to Zūnya?
Oh wow that was amazing for me. My residency at Zūnya was the beginning of a new process I had been preparing for. Before that I was creating with friends for carnival but then Zūnya was a real graduation event for me. The irony of bringing this particular project where we worked with native mud and natural materials was phenomenal. As I said earlier, that whole inspiration was sparked 10 years previously in the Costa Rican jungle. What a metamorphosis and full circle. Zūnya was an ending and beginning for me and my art. Everyone who participated was very open and receptive and truly provided the safe space for co creation. This was my first event outside of columbia where I was facing a new language and culture with my work so it was unbelievable how receptive everyone was. So many different theories, perspectives, and good vibes with such openness. Zūnya’s program inspired me to keep moving forward with my offerings. They even helped me land a new project in Mexico! I am very honored to be the first artist resident because, of course, my favorite part of the process is the white page. Overall Zūnya was a very powerful energetic place and I have continued to carry that energy with me.
What did you enjoy the most about the time you were at Zūnya?
I think each person that was there made the experience so special. From the guests to the people who work there, it was such a diverse and welcoming community. There were people from all corners of the world with the same common intention to share, grow, and learn.
Zūnya is like a bubble that holds a beautiful experiment of co creation.
Zūnya means nothingness and my project was about becoming dust again, so we shared the intention of journeying back to the idea of simply being and then exploring what can come from that. The idea of creating a new way of living was so understood there. It was just such a safe space to birth my creativity and share inspiration with a community built on the principals of unconditional love. It is this state of love and the love of being together as humans that truly inspires me.