This week’s Latina Spotlight is on visual artist Andrea Arroyo. Andrea is an award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited, published and reviewed extensively and is featured in public, corporate
and private collections around the world,” and whose upcoming exhibit, “Interlaced Memories,” will be featured in New York City’s Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center November 22, 2013-January 10, 2014.
Join Andrea for her Google+ webinar, “Best Practices for Artists,” presented by the ELLA Leadership Institute.
You’re currently working on a new art installment, “Flor de Tierra.” Describe this project for us.
“Flor de Tierra* – Homage to the Women of Juárez” is a project in progress that consists of 400 drawings in tribute to the victims of femicide in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where more than 400 women have been murdered, without the authorities taking proper measures to investigate and address the problem. Bodies are left abandoned in deserted areas, or buried in shallow graves. Murders continue to take place to this day. Each piece is a tribute to an individual victim. The drawings as a group depict the
enormity of the crimes, for which no one has been held responsible. I use black paper to evoke the feeling of loss, and white lines, suggestive of police chalk outlines, to evoke feelings of light and life.
For me, female forms connect all women, linking the past with the present, the vulnerable with the indestructible. “Flor de Tierra,” literally ”Flower of the Earth”, is also an expression used in Spanish in reference to something that is buried or planted shallow.
What inspired “Flor de Tierra”?
My major inspirations are the women who became the victims of such unspeakable violence. I am moved when I think of each one of them, and of their precious potential, which was lost when their lives were cut short.
I have been creating artwork that explores the status of women in society for many years; so current women’s issues are always of interest to me.
I have known about the femicides in Ciudad Juarez for many years and I wanted to bring the case to light, and to use art to foster a conversation about the prevalent culture of violence against women.
As an artist, my tools are my creative skills, so I decided to create a project that would honor these women’s lives, rather than focus on the violence they suffered. The project is a tribute to all victims of violence against women around the world.
What has been the most challenging aspect of completing this installment?
It’s a big project, and I am committed to complete it, even though creating such a large number of drawings can take a long time. When I am working, I create each drawing as homage to the life of one victim, focusing on the value of her life rather than on the violent death she endured.
What has been the most fulfilling aspect of completing this installment?
As with all my artistic projects, the creative process is the most rewarding and important aspect.
Getting a remarkable response from audiences when I present the project has been an additional reward, and one that I cherish.
What do you hope to convey with “Flor de Tierra”?
That the lives of all human beings are equally valuable.
I created this project as a parallel to another project titled “Flor de Vida,” that celebrates the lives and stories of extraordinary figures in history and mythology, such as The Queen of Sheba, Cleopatra and Frida Kahlo.
“Flor de Tierra” elevates the victims of Juarez to the same level of the extraordinary women who everybody recognizes, and underscores the idea that the life of all women is equally valuable.
Violence of any kind is unacceptable.
How does your identity as a woman and as a Latina influence your work?
I don’t consciously think about it during the creative process, but I am sure that, as part of my DNA, it permeates everything I do.
Many things influence me, including the Pre-Columbian and mural art from Mexico. I am always inspired by women, when I was a professional dancer, I was fascinated by the female form, as I transitioned to the visual arts, I became intrigued not only by the female form, but also by female stories.
What is your advice to other artists?
The most importantly thing is to create the best work possible and to challenge yourself creatively.
Additionally, be professional, support your fellow artists and keep an open mind so you can learn something new every day, so you never stop growing as an artist.
Be sure to check out Andrea’s upcoming exhibit at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, November 22, 2013-January 10, 2014, and visit her website at www.andreaarroyo.com.
Listen to our interview with Andrea Arroyo, “The Business of Art Professional Development and Best Practices for Artists”.