A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing an art exhibition by one of our alumni, Stephanie Logroño. She graduated from our school only a few short years ago, so I was surprised to see her already putting together this kind of show. She and fellow artist, Eloise Silvestre, produced all the artwork and put the entire exhibition together on their own. Not only did the exhibition showcase their amazing artistic talent, but was also impressive for the courage and perseverance it must have taken to put together this kind of exhibit with little support.
Stephanie’s exhibit was titled Confort (Spanish for “comfort”) and made me think long and hard about what it means to remain in your comfort zone. I wrote about the connections I made to teaching in a previous blog post. But I also wanted to interview Stephanie about her artistic process and how she manages to step out of her comfort zone in order to create art that others may not always understand or agree with. Here is what she had to say:
What has your process of growth as an artist been? I know you were into writing in high school, but I’m not sure when you began exploring the different arts. How did your interest shift into drawing, painting, and sculptures, and where are you now in that process?
Currently, I’m a visual artist who works with concepts and interactive art in Santo Domingo. Two years ago, during my very first year studying fine arts and illustration, I was certain I wanted to draw and write children’s books. By my second year at Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design, I learned about all the different ways to create. I fell in love with sculpture, installation, and performance art. I, along with most of my work as an emerging artist, began to change and grow. I could feel this constant awareness, like the corners of my consciousness stretching and expanding. I could strongly feel a voice, soft-spoken and growing, triggering a confidence and a power I never knew I had.
I still feel like that passionate seventeen-year-old girl sometimes, who would write perplexing, emotional sentences during writing elective. I can feel them all: the writer, the illustrator, the sculptor. When people ask me what I do in my area of work, I tell them I create visual metaphors. I’ve always brought literary allusion into my sculptures. In a way, I am a visual storyteller, despite the medium I choose to use.
As an artist, you really put yourself out there. Do you feel nervous when people look at your work? Do you feel at all worried about their response or judgment? What advice would you give to people who are afraid to follow their dreams because of what people might think?
I absolutely get nervous when people are looking at my recent work! I am most vulnerable after I have finished a piece. As an artist, there’s always that need to communicate, yet the public’s impression isn’t my first concern. Curiosity creeps in, but I never worry about the conclusions viewers draw. I worry about how a piece looks, how it feels, how it speaks.
I want to encourage creative thinkers, visual storytellers, designers, and emerging artists to understand that there is nothing scary about negative feedback. Experimenting is part of the process, and we ought to let the process speak to us.
How did you come up with the theme for your art exposition?
The idea of Confort came up one late afternoon, discussing different perspectives about isolation. My roommate and I wanted to work on introverted human behaviors: the very act of closing ourselves in, either physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually. We decided to share our negative experiences and focus on our uncomfortable perception of comfort zones.
What is the meaning behind your pieces?
My body of work consists of a series of conceptual portraits that reflect my view of a person’s interior life, their energy and the essence. My work is a group of interactive sculptures that portray the attitude and character of my grandmother through the use of wood, photography, and mirrors. The subject of the photographs is my grandmother, Delfina. Her photographs narrate a time when she was curious about life, traveling outside of herself, breaking down her walls, her comfort zones. The photographs are cut, transferred, and faded away onto the surface of wooden sculptures. I bury these images, concealing memories within the pieces. Photographs are transferred inside or outside wooden strips, capturing and caging her essence. The resulting pieces engage with multiple dualities at once, strength and fragility, the ephemeral and the enduring, as well as a sense of enclosure.
How did you yourself grow through the process of creating your work and putting the exposition together?
I was very open about trying new things while producing this body of work and putting the exposition together. Eloise and I took so many risks in the presentation and installation of the pieces. The way things were suspended from the ceiling, the interplay between materials and space, the fact that in order to enter the exposition, the public had to touch the art work and walk through it. And we wanted that. We wanted the public to have a new gallery experience where maybe they would feel uncomfortable or strange.
I’m always making room for new experiences to grow intellectually and emotionally. But I always have to remind myself to move past my fears. I was very insecure about integrating photography into my artwork, since it was my first time working with Transfer, the technique that moves and transfers images onto wooden surfaces. It was also my first time using mirrors. I wanted the pieces to be very personal and interactive. I wanted to use mirrors to allow viewers to form independent connections between the concept and the aesthetics used. This way they could see both my grandmother’s essence and their own.
I think that in moving from the concept to the process, something spiritual happens. I began welcoming things and feelings I don’t understand. I stepped out of myself and grew.
Thanks to Stephanie for sharing her creative process with us. Seeing her artwork and hearing her thoughts have motivated me to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I hope you feel inspired too!