– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
My mother, paternal grandmother and my two older sisters and all of their friends. My mother and grandmother were very industrious people creating a myriad of handmade amazing things such as clothes, food and other perfectly crafted objects. Being the youngest of three girls I was surrounded by my two brilliant older sisters who were also quite inspiring, one now a doctor and marathon runner still inspires me to this day.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman. One of my earliest memories involves reading and being read ‘The Little House on the Prairie’ books. I too grew up on the prairie. Laura Ingalls and the other two named were all pioneers in their own right, beautiful, but also very fierce.
Women who inspire you now?
Louise Bourgeois, Lenore Tawney, and Dorothea Tanning were all living artists when I first moved to New York twenty years ago. I studied them in school and sort of idolized them. Now I wish I would have at the very least went to their openings to congratulation them in person.
My current role models include a very long list and I am thrilled there are so many established female artists living and working today, both that I have had the extreme honor to meet and those that I would love to. It is so inspiring to see them continue to make their work, persevere and gain the acclaim that is deserved.
Most valuable lesson taught by your Mother or any other women growing up?
To do what you love.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
It depends. In the visual arts I think women are more revered as they get older. Or at least female artists I know that have dedicated their lives to being fine artists. They are heroes to me and I feel others have this same view…
Have you made career changes over the years?
I always knew I wanted to be an artist!
Through the decades!
20s: What I wish I had done more of: travel, date, trust myself.
What I wish I would have done less of: worry about pleasing people and about being alone.
Accomplishments: BFA moved to New York City, earned an MFA.
30s: In my early 30’s I began to take my work and what I wanted to achieve seriously. I felt like I was making up for lost time spent in my twenties. I worked a lot, like all the time.
By my late 30’s I was trying for more balance… it is still a challenge and comes and goes. I had my first solo show in New York and began to be awarded grants and residencies.
40s: Only three years into this decade. It is starting off pretty good!
Ask me again in 20 years.
What have been your greatest challenges?
Keeping a balance in life is a continual challenge.
“Self-confidence. I think it is something we all struggle with but do not talk about. Trusting yourself & believing in your vision is a challenge, but not trusting yourself is worse. “
What are you most grateful for?
My studio here in New York at the Clemente Soto Velez has been the one constant in my life since 1999. Every day I get to go there is a gift from the universe. My artist community, family, friends and colleagues that have supported my vision and believed in me through the years. And not but not least, my husband, he too is an amazing gift.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
My mother’s death. She lived to the age of 67. When diagnosed with cancer it had already metastasized and lived just another year and a half. None of us would have guessed this would happen. Since I try to see every day as a gift.
Life and all it presents is so brief. I try to appreciate it all and remember everything is temporary.
Thoughts on aging?
The upside: I am generally calmer. I feel more confident from the accumulation of experience and knowledge life gives.
The downside: Time goes so fast and seems to go even faster now and there is still so much left to do I want to do!
Your advice to young women of today?
Do what you love, trust your childhood dreams, be really kind to yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you and are also kind to you. Good things take time. Trust your vision, believe in yourself remain patient and focused. Be grateful for everything you have right now
Images courtesy of Melanie Vote unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
I love reading biographies of artists I admire, most recently Birthday, by Dorothea Tanning. I also love listening to books while painting. I was really taken by The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami.
I’m in the process of listening to Miranda July’s book, The First Bad Man.
I tend to get hooked on stories with psychological complexities.
Film: The Wizard of OZ
Scent: Lavender and geranium essential oils.
Flower: Peonies, remind me of my birthday, summer and being a carefree child.
City: I love Rome. It is so layered historically and too complex to tire of, ever. Of course New York is great too. Otherwise, I crave nature, to be outside in the summer serenaded by the sounds of wind,
insects and frogs while painting. That is heavenly.
Lipstick: Could not live without Chapstick…
Food/Meal/Cuisine: Healthy vegetarian food and plenty of really good chocolate and coffee.
Song: I find Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, Andante (“Elvira Madigan”) absolutely intoxicating. Listening to it on headphones while riding the subway has saved my life innumerable times.
So many to list… Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Gober, Thomas Eakins, Degas, Ingres, Bronzino….. I could fill the entire page with art loves.