“My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.”–Dionne Brand
To be quite frank, I felt an immediate sense of excitement when I learned that Geneseo would be offering INTD288, a course exploring Steve Prince’s art. Maybe the exhilaration I felt about taking this course was that it was [FINALLY] something that called out to me. Seeing the catalog and description for this course instantly struck me. Glimpsing at Prince’s work attached to the informational flyer about the course left me feeling completely and utterly enthralled. Perhaps this great sense of enticement was rooted in the mere fact that Prince’s work is very vocal; it’s demands to be seen, listened, and heard. I wanted to know more about the artist behind the piece. With its bold, expressive linear figures and its sense of movement throughout the work, it is pretty much impossible (if not very hard) to not be compelled in learning more about the person behind the work. Almost instinctively, I knew I had to be a part of this experience and even more so, I knew that this was an opportunity to be involved in something I believed to be important and in something that actually interested me–ART. It was refreshing to say the least.
The first week I experienced for this course was incredible! From listening to some snazzy tunes and having lively conversations with one another, to getting down and dirty with some charcoal blocks, what was there not to love?Getting to learn about Prince and carrying out a conversation with him was practically brain food. It nourished my mind, not only by allowing me to self reflect, but by allowing me to learn the way in which art can be used as a tool in learning how to reconnect with one another. The experience gained from contributing to the Urban Garden truly placed this into perspective. During one of my conversations with Prince, he told me that what he values the most about his work is the process in which it takes to create something. Creating something out of nothing is an extraordinary feeling and it is this process that opens up a space for conversation between one another. Having worked along side with Prince and everyone else who contributed to the Urban Garden project, I can easily say I agree.
(the piece I created for the Urban Garden)
I actually wanted to attend art school right after high school. Creating was the only thing I ever wanted to do and having a paint brush and an empty Arches paper ready to be filled up with my imagination was the only time I felt at peace with my contribution to the world. I started drawing and painting at a very young age, probably by the age of 3. I have always been heavily inspired by my heritage and ethnicity and I wanted a way to celebrate being Mexican and art was always my gateway. From receiving a full scholarship to attend Pratt Institute’s art course in Abstract art at the age of 11, to auditioning and being accepted to a specialized art high school at the age of 13, to landing a position in a sculpture program at the MoMA in NYC (Museum of Modern Art) at the age of 18 and having an exhibition, it seemed as though my career path was pretty much settled– I’d become an artist!
(El Trabajador, watercolor on arches watercolor paper)
Well, clearly attending art school did not happen, as I find myself here now at Geneseo pursuing my bachelors degree three years later. Making art was the only thing that ever made sense to me, but being a self proclaimed “artist” comes with a lot of difficulties. For starters, you can often find yourself feeling greatly discouraged– discouraged in seeing your work not be seen, and discouraged in people telling you that becoming an artist is not a feasible plan. Also, materials can [usually] come with a hefty price tag. I stopped painting for a while, life gets hectic and chaotic, especially when you are a twenty-something year old college student living alone, seven something hours away from home. But even during that small time frame from not picking up a single paint brush, I craved creating something so I’d often find myself doodling in my spare time but never taking it seriously. That crave and urge never stops, and so when I asked Prince as to how he approached discouragement from creating and from having an unsteady sales income, he confidently told me that “The urge to create will always overcome anything else–fear, worrisome–anything. Art is the only thing I’ve ever done.”
I had always felt invalidated as an artist, how could I call myself one having not studied it? Having not dedicated myself to my craft one-hundred percent? Well, my friends, what I have come to realize is that to be an artist is to love what you do and do what you love [no matter what]! Yes, even if it means moving the living room furniture around at 2am on a Friday night to make it into your own personal “studio” to paint from during your spare time. It means being able to see and remember. To listen and to hear. It means being open to learning, paying attention, contributing, and growing. And this my friends, is what we talk about, when we art.