Tag Archives: Interview

Artist Feature: Pat Messy

Pat Messy | Photo by Will Urbina

Pat Messy | Photo by Will Urbina

Reflection is that mental place where you try to put an answer to why things are the way they are, why things happen the way they do. Response is what you choose to do with that understanding, how you choose to react, what you choose to give back.

– Pat Messy

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

PM: I was born and grew up in Santa Cruz, CA, been up in Oakland for some years. Right now I am in a place called Elevation.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

PM: A lot haha. I think reflection is the process of trying to make sense of what’s going on all around us. It’s that mental place where you try to put an answer to why things are the way they are, why things happen the way they do. Response is what you choose to do with that understanding, how you choose to react, what you choose to give back.

How does your music fit in with that definition?

PM: My music is my response to the frequencies of life. I try to capture what I see in the world and in the people around me, reflect it off what I hear in my head and feel in my gut, then somehow translate it into rhythm and rhyme. As far as the musical side of things, I do a lot of sampling (not just loops tho). I like to listen to music, so I listen to records for timbres and tones, little musical chops that inspire me to create. For example, on Skeleton Key, the entire melody was taken from a single 1/16th note from an old funk record. The tone of the note they hit had me bugged so I chopped it, spread it out over my keyboard and played a brand new melody and progression. To the point that you can’t recognize the original sample. I try to do that with my sample work, reflect on the music before me and respond in a way that transforms it into something new and fresh.

With The Elevation LP, I really created from a reflective place, it’s pretty much the stories and experiences that I wanted to share from my formative years. The songs I like to write are usually conceptual. I don’t really sit around brainstorming things to write about. I just write, and then what I need to write about emerges in the process. I try to focus in on that subject, communicate my learning and understanding that I get through reflection and giving these thoughts attention. All my songs go thru a lot of editing and reworking to stay on topic. I have a song about being hungover. I have a song about chasing skirts. I have a song about losing my mother after a long battle with cancer. I’m all over the place!! I tried to create a personal record that is accessible, like hey, this is what I’ve been dealing with, this is what I’ve learned, if you can learn something about yourself or the world around you by listening to my records then I’ve done my job.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Basilia Guadalupe

Basilia Guadalupe

Creo que el arte, la pintura en este caso, es una forma de entablar un diálogo no sólo con uno mismo sino también con la vida misma. Es un diálogo para mí ya que no podría afirmar que uno puede dar una respuesta cerrada haciendo arte, es más bien un diálogo eterno.

I believe that art and painting, in this case, is a way to initiate dialogue, not just within oneself but also with life itself. This is an ongoing dialogue, and I would say that one cannot really give a closed (or final) answer concerning art.

– Basilia Guadalupe

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

BG: Vengo de una provincia del nordeste Argentino que se llama Corrientes. Nací ahí pero a los pocos días de nacer nos fuimos a vivir con mi familia a España. Mis primeros cinco años fueron allí y luego volví a vivir a Corrientes. Hace cinco años vivo en Buenos Aires y Ahora estoy en el Sillón de mi casa en el barrio San Isidro.

BG: I’m from a province in the northwest of Argentina called Corrientes. I was born there and shortly after I moved with my family to Spain. I spent my first 5 years of life there and then moved back to Corrientes. I returned to Buenos Aires 5 years ago where I’m currently sitting on the sofa in my house in San Isidro.

Que quieren decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

BG: Quiere decir dar una respuesta desde el lugar en el mundo donde uno se para y encara la vida. Una respuesta desde la visión del mundo que uno tiene.

BG: This means to give a response from the place one stops and faces the world. A response from one’s point of view of the world.

Basilia Guadalupe

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your art fit into that definition?

BG: Creo que el arte, la pintura en este caso, es una forma de entablar un diálogo no sólo con uno mismo sino también con la vida misma. Es un diálogo para mí ya que no podría afirmar que uno puede dar una respuesta cerrada haciendo arte, es más bien un diálogo eterno. Kandinsky decía “Cada cuadro encierra misteriosamente toda una vida, toda una vida de muchos sufrimientos, dudas, horas de entusiasmo y de luz”. Yo creo que el arte que verdaderamente vale la pena mirar es aquel nos muestra casi sin querer toda esa energía de vida, toda la maravillosa complejidad de ser humanos. Creo que si en algún lado se cuela en mi arte la definición de reflexión y respuesta que dí es simplemente en el hecho de entrar en ese espacio de conexión donde se genera una reflexión sobre el mundo que quizás parezca que dura unos segundos pero continúa eternamente cuadro tras cuadro mientras intento dilucidar una respuesta.

BG: I believe that art and painting, in this case, is a way to initiate dialogue, not just within oneself but also with life itself. This is an ongoing dialogue, and I would say that one cannot really give a closed (or final) answer concerning art. As Kandisky said, “In every painting a whole is mysteriously enclosed, a whole life of tortures, doubts, of hours of enthusiasm and inspiration.” I believe that art that is really worth experiencing effortlessly depicts all that energy of life, all the complexity of human beings. If people hang up my art somewhere then my Reflection and Response is simply the fact that I’ve entered into that space of connection; (a place) where reflection about the world that seems to only last a few seconds but in reality continues forever (through) painting after painting (through which) I try to elucidate a response.

Basilia Guadalupe

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Vernell Anthony Davis

Vernell Anthony Davis

Response is the feeling you get once your moment of reflection hits and many times you catch yourself jotting ideas for that next project or tweaks to make your craft better.

– Vernell Anthony Davis

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

VAD: I was born at Oakland Kaiser and raised in between Berkeley and Oakland for the most part of my life. I have a gigantic family and a majority of them reside in Berkeley so most of my days were spent being exposed to all walks of life and being influenced by different cultures and ways of living. I grew up going to Church, Jewish Synogugoes, Toast Masters and doing various activities because my parents believed in exposing us to the world and letting us build our own story. We made our mark in Berkeley by owning one of the best Barbeque restaurants in the East Bay called KC’s Barbeque. I don’t come from your typical city boy background. We’ve really taken on this whole western style meets city life by having a southern style barbeque restaurant and owning an entire ranch with horses, pigs and chickens. Once I graduated from Berkeley High School I made my way down to Los Angeles where I lived for almost seven years while also traveling to various countries like Spain, Morocco, India & Sri Lanka. I recently found myself back to the familiar streets and neighborhoods that started it all for me. Berkeley will always be home for me but I’ve found myself longing to venture out into the unknown once again.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

VAD: My definition of reflection is everything that has influenced and gotten me to the position I’m in today. Reflection is my DNA, my purpose, meditation, my peace and joy. Reflection is the gathering of thoughts and mapping out a plan of pursuit.

After reflection naturally you respond and build on the inspiration. Response is everything thats impacted your life and caused things to transpire the way they do. Response is the feeling you get once your moment of reflection hits and many times you catch yourself jotting ideas for that next project or tweaks to make your craft better. Hearing certain instruments and notes in a song can really strike a chord in you. You can’t help but respond to good music.

How does your song Lavish fit in with that definition?

VAD: I recently wrote a song titled Lavish. I was sitting in my friend Sam’s room having never written in my life and he says, “hey start singing to these chords” and proceeds to pick at the guitar. The feeling was pretty weird. The song is just a reflection of my feelings on paper. I was so accustomed to singing songs by other artists and portraying how they felt but once you write your own it brings you that much closer to the music. I found that I enjoyed the writing process and I learned that so many things can come from it. I anticipate writing more.

Lavish is a song about your current or future love. I want my wife to know that she’s the one I was destined to be with and the one I vow to love forever. I don’t want her to feel as though she’s alone on the journey but to know that I’m going to lavish her with love every day of the rest of my life. I know many partners in relationships may carry doubts that their significant other really loves them or if they’re just going with the flow of things until a better opportunity springs forward. This is a song to reassure one’s love and to encourage that person to walk in confidence. You are loved.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Alivia Schaffer

Alivia Schaffer | Photo by Cheryl Mann

Alivia Schaffer | Photo by Cheryl Mann

I actually would prefer to use these words in their verb tense- reflect and respond, because of their less passive nature. When I see these words as action, I take more responsibility for creating a response versus responding how the masses may or in a way that is expected of me. With each of my reflections or responses, I am able to create another layer of connection between my work and the work of others, or between myself and the world around me.

– Alivia Schaffer

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AS: I grew up just Northwest of Chicago in Algonquin, IL. Now, I am living in Chicago and working with DanceWorks Chicago.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: Reflection and Response are two important parts of my everyday life. The two concepts really are what making work is all about. They are the process of taking the dry technique of an art form from mindless regurgitation, to a robust and personalized statement. The art I put out is always my reflection or response to something. I see others’ work and I shape opinions about it as my reflection, and then I notice what things I found successful or intriguing, compared with which parts I was put off by. From there I create my own work as my response, using my reflection from what I experienced. As an artist, I feel like the world has become my studio and space for constant reflection and response. I often just see everything around me as information. Yet, the information does me no good until it is responded to or reflected upon. I actually would prefer to use these words in their verb tense- reflect and respond, because of their less passive nature. When I see these words as action, I take more responsibility for creating a response versus responding how the masses may or in a way that is expected of me. With each of my reflections or responses, I am able to create another layer of connection between my work and the work of others, or between myself and the world around me. When I am genuinely utilizing reflection and response, I have no longer been simply going through the motions of life, but instead I am truly being present and listening to what’s around me and making a choice of how to propel forward from there.

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

Alivia Schaffer | colored pencil

  How does your work fit in with that definition?

AS: I prefer never to make work that is a narrative of my own life, but instead I aim to create work that acts as a platform or framework for dancers to find themselves in. In this method, my work asks dancers to do the reflecting and responding themselves. Thus leading them to connect with their fellow dancers, myself, their audience, and the world. My choreographic process feels much more like a conversation and constant exchange of responses between myself and the dancers, versus me as the hierarchy handing out instructions.

 What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AS: I am proud to say that I just finished my first season working as a professional dancer with DanceWorks Chicago! We recently returned from performing at Spring to Dance, a dance festival in St. Louis. Next up for me will be choreographing a quartet for Dance in the Parks Chicago. This summer, I will also be teaching dance and visual arts classes at the Auditorium Theater’s Heart to Art Camp; a camp providing art outlets for children who are coping with the loss of one or both of their parents.

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

Alivia Schaffer | oil pastel

 Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Andrea DeFelice

Andrea DeFelice

Much of my recent work appears as a hacking together of disparate objects that weren’t built to work together in the first place. I explore interactions between the objects, reducing forms to basics, and responding to subjects of interest, such as proclaimed value/power placed on things, alienation through technology, significance, boundaries, and uselessness.

– Andrea DeFelice

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AD: I was born and raised in New York. I grew up in Smithtown, later moved to the East Village, and then bounced around between Queens, London [the English one] and Brooklyn. I’ve been in primarily in Brooklyn since 2007 and my husband and I recently bought a home there.

I’ve been working as an Assistant Professor for three years and a visual artist for I’d say a solid decade. Drawing and printmaking were my first mediums. As a younger, darker me, I remember being very drawn to literary and medical illustrations, as well as art by the Romantics and the Dadaists. Into later years I shifted into moving image, sculpture, as well as increased incorporation of new media technologies. The work’s remained multi-disciplinary for the greater bulk of the time.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AD: Mirror-smashing? Reflection’s inward and subjective. It varies under the influence of someone or something [like Absinthe mixed with Tequila]. Regardless of how it’s directed, it’s examination and a human form of internal processing. It can be a healthy thinking process if not taken too far. Response is more of reflection’s counterpart. It’s outward and active. Response is reflection with… balls? Can I say ‘balls’?

defelice_06

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AD: I suppose there’s some congruency in the relationship since the work is very driven by controversy and interactions. It’s from what I’d find to be generative of questioning—particularly in overall actions and doings in the world. Not that I’m asking, ‘Why oh why..?!’ about everything, or that my work is politically driven. But there’s consistency to attempt to decipher what doesn’t make sense, or to re-decipher what does. This examining tends to come out through the subject matter and through the media. Much of my recent work appears as a hacking together of disparate objects that weren’t built to work together in the first place. I explore interactions between the objects, reducing forms to basics, and responding to subjects of interest, such as proclaimed value/power placed on things, alienation through technology, significance, boundaries, and uselessness.

defelice_04a

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AD: I’ve been working on a series of mechanical sculptures. With these I’m mixing functioning components with occasionally disparate objects, then embedding them into shaped geometric forms. These forms are composed of layered substrates and various filler materials such as dirt, clay, rock, plaster, and metals.

I occasionally do work with an artist’s collaborative, The Institute For Wishful Thinking. Forming in 2008, this collective has developed projects in the U.S. and internationally including The Austrian Cultural Forum, Momenta Art, Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, Contemporary Art Center in Thessaloniki, Pori Art Museum in Finland, and Periferic 8 Biennial for Contemporary Art in Iasi, Romania.

defelice_05a

defelice_04

I’m thrilled to be doing Bushwick Open Studios in Brooklyn with awesome visual artist Michela Buttignol. I’m also working with another great artist, Jennifer Murray, on getting an upcoming show together for Porter Contemporary Gallery in Chelsea. Lastly, I’m looking forward to an artist residency in Harfnarfjordur, Iceland coming up for 2015.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Gavin Dunaway

Libel

Standard operating procedure. When something stimulates a reaction, we must reflect – on our personal feelings and experience as well as all available information – before formulating our reaction.

– Gavin Dunaway

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

GD: I was born outside of Washington, DC, in Northern Virginia, and spent 27 years trying to get out. I kid, but it’s very hard to get away from the DC area – there are good schools and government jobs; the suburbs are safe and comfy. And a little dull. On a professional (for a living, I’m an industry journalist) and on an artistic level, I needed something more, something bolder. I still love my hometown, and the choice to move to New York (really Brooklyn) was a tough one, but I’ve been here six years and have never felt more at home. A few years ago, I found an amazing deal on a big apartment in Bushwick near the Jefferson L, and I’m sitting pretty near my rehearsal studio as the neighborhood rapidly transforms.

 The main reason I migrated to Brooklyn was to extend my rock’n’roll dreams: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 and jammed in bands for longer than I can remember. While I jumped around from band to band for a while, my main focus now is the group I lead, Libel. I try to blend my love of 70s glam (e.g., David Bowie) with 90s post-punk (e.g., Fugazi), while sprinkling socially conscious lyrics on top – examining the contemporary state of identity; the decay of the middle class and domination of the plutocrats; the slide into hyper-reality; and even the volatility of love amid cultural confusion.

Libel

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

GD: Standard operating procedure. When something stimulates a reaction, we must reflect – on our personal feelings and experience as well as all available information – before formulating our reaction. Technology has encouraged us to respond without reflecting (I’m looking at you, Twitter), turning so much of our culture into a series of knee-jerk reactions with little depth. Indeed, I think many of us are so lost in the flood of information that we desperately seek guides to follow and allow them to tell us what to think – about politics, art, etc. Reflection withers, response dominates – we’re all desperate to be heard, and ultimately validated, in an ocean of voices.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

GD: I tend to let songs gestate for years; crafting both music and lyrics require a great deal of reflection before finalization. For example, I’m finishing up lyrics to a song focused on gentrification. When I finished the first draft, I thought, what is this trying to say – gentrification is bad? No, it’s more complicated than that. Am I just merely describing what I’ve seen in Bushwick the last few years? If so, is there a message below the straightforward chronicle? In the end, I realized the lyrics reflected the callousness of the gentrifiers (which includes me) to transform areas without any – wait for it – reflection on the environment they are disturbing. And then we move on when we get priced out or just… bored because the area turns into something we don’t recognize (or like).

 So my creative work feels much more dedicated to reflection, and encouraging others to reflect and develop their own responses.

Libel

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Allison Spence

Allison Spence

What interested me most in those frames was how the video–the digital eye–reproduced them. A machine doesn’t have the same preconceived notions of what a body looks like. It doesn’t see it the same way we do, where in a confusion of limbs we always pick out what is intelligible to us.

– Allison Spence

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AS: I grew up in South Florida, but I very recently moved to Los Angeles, via San Diego where I attended graduate school. I swung from palm tree to palm tree.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: To me, Reflection refers to a kind of information processing; whether it is a mental reflection (memory) or the reflection on a surface of an image or group of images, say with a mirror. Either way, Reflection is affected by its medium—by the perception of that medium. One’s memory of an event, for instance, is influenced by their position (physical/emotional/political/etc.) within that event. Or, if you think of fun-house mirrors, the same applies. We laugh at the reflections in a fun-house mirror, or they disturb us, because they do not conform to the views we already hold of our own bodies. But I think all of these reflections hold a kind of truth, even if they are sometimes considered just pale imitations of what they reference. Who is to really say for sure, though?

I think Response fits snugly into Reflection in that it is born out of a similar type of processing. But Response comes from the sum of a number of reflections, or experiences. In other words, there’s math involved. But because of all the different variables, it is easier to think of Response as a closer measure of the subject than Reflection. Like this interview versus the picture of me it starts out with.

Allison Spence - mass 6

Allison Spence – mass 6

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AS: Well, a lot of the work that is pictured here is from a recent series of paintings, which used as its subject split-second frames from highly compressed Youtube videos. They’re bodies, groups of bodies. The specifics of who they are or what they are doing don’t really matter in the long run. What interested me most in those frames was how the video–the digital eye–reproduced them. A machine doesn’t have the same preconceived notions of what a body looks like. It doesn’t see it the same way we do, where in a confusion of limbs we always pick out what is intelligible to us. We will always see the arms, the legs. Machines don’t always do this, and instead they’ll reproduce the limited information that they are given, like colors, values…there’s less separation, the boundaries blur, become masses. I like to think that maybe the machine sees something that we cannot, that this kind of collapse happens sometimes. The idea fascinates me.

Allison Spence - Big Mass

Allison Spence – Big Mass

Then, of course, I reproduce these moments in paint, and I bring with it all of my own baggage, all of those painterly considerations, color theory, all that junk. It becomes twice removed from its source. I’m responding to a reflection, in a sense.

Allison Spence - mass 4

Allison Spence – mass 4

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Poor Old Shine

Poor Old Shine | Photo by Sarah Lefroncois

Poor Old Shine | Photo by Sarah Lefroncois

No matter what you do in life, you will leave some mark on the world. It is up to you to decide what kind of a mark you want to leave and how you want to be remembered when all is said and done. 

– Poor Old Shine

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

POS: We met at the University of Connecticut. Antonio Alcorn and Chris Freeman met as members of UConn’s Folk Music Club (believe it or not, that existed) and were mistaken to be a band by a friend who booked them for a show. After pulling together a few songs and fishing out a lyric from one of the songs they were playing that night (Ain’t No More Cane) to be their band name, the band was born. With the addition of Max Shakun on Guitar and Pump organ, Harrison Goodale on Bass and Glockenspiel, and Erik Hischmann on drums, the band has evolved quite a bit since that accidental first gig. We still live around the area of UConn as we enjoy its rural lifestyle and pace. 

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

POS: Reflection is when you make an observation of what is going on inside and outside yourself. The response is what you decide to do with this newfound knowledge from your observation. 

How does your song Weeds or Wildflowers fit in with that definition?

POS: Weeds or Wildflowers ties in with these definitions as the song discusses how no matter what you do in life, you will leave some mark on the world. It is up to you to decide what kind of a mark you want to leave and how you want to be remembered when all is said and done. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

POS: We are currently touring with our first full length album, Poor Old Shine, and that has been keeping us very busy! We really love touring as it gives us the opportunity to experience new people and places that we would have never seen otherwise. Next up for us is heading back into the studio to record an EP that will be released this summer.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Sydwox

Sydwox

Like “Indra’s Net” or a spider’s web full of dew drops, each dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops, in a game of infinite reflection, we are all connected. Response is the act that we’ve chosen, (whether physical, mental, or verbal) to communicate with one another.

– Sydwox

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

S: I go by my undocumented moniker Sydwox, but most of my artist friends call me Wox. I was raised on the central coast of California in a small surfer beach town called Los Osos. I currently reside in San Francisco, and have been in love with the Bay Area ever since I moved here in 2004. After studying visual effects for film at Gnomon (a Hollywood based private school), I turned my back on the digital world to pursue my true passion of painting surrealism and graffiti. Although I am constantly influenced by my technical background, there’s nothing better than getting your hands dirty and the fresh smell of tiny aerosol paint molecules colliding with the wall without permission. 🙂

Sydwox - Over Creation

Sydwox – Over Creation

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

S: Reflection for me means looking within oneself to find that we are all just one reflection of each other, beneath the surface differences, one organism revolving through space on this craft called Earth. Like “Indra’s Net” or a spider’s web full of dew drops, each dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops, in a game of infinite reflection, we are all connected. Response for me is the act that we’ve chosen, (whether physical, mental, or verbal) to communicate with one another. Using all our senses we perceive what exists outside ourselves and depending on how a particular vibration resonates within us we choose a way to answer to our perceptions.

Sydwox - DaVine Apprehension

Sydwox – DaVine Apprehension

How does your piece “DaVine Apprehension” fit in with that definition?

S: In “Davine Apprehension” a vandal barely escapes injury or arrest when his artistic depiction of nature comes alive and constrains the institutional enforcer trying to stop him. This piece for me was a fun way to reflect on several experiences I had dealing with the authorities for the way I chose to respond to social issues through public self expression or “street art.” The creation of this painting helped me release a lot of anger while making light of the age old game of cat & mouse.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

S: I just started working on my first canvas after a two year break where I focused entirely on murals and wheat pasting. I didn’t plan on taking this long of a break from my paint brush but I’m very excited to see what results from two years of built-up inspiration and life experience. Looking ahead, I’m working on a series painted entirely on rusted found objects and I am in the process of lining up several live-painting sessions at various venues in SF as well as a few music festivals in 2015.

Sydwox - SF Hands

Sydwox – SF Hands

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Joanna Poz-Molesky

Joanna Poz-Molesky

JUNTOS addresses the need for human connections to inspire one another to create positive change and simultaneously to heal suffering…By using community outreach in art, I hope to offer expression, inspiration, healing, sharing, and most importantly, love.

– Joanna Poz-Molesky

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JPM: I was born in Berkeley, California and currently reside in Oakland. Although I spent most of my life there, I’ve also lived in Guatemala and New York City. 

I recognize that as artists, we all share part of our story and message. I was born into a bi-cultural household – my father a Maya from a rural village in the Guatemalan highlands who finished high school, my mother an ex-nun with her Ph.D from a middle-class San Francisco family. I realize that as a bi-cultural woman, life presents me with wonderful opportunities to experience the richness and understandings of various heritages as well as offers me possibilities to communicate with these cultures. I recognize art as my way of celebrating my heritage as well as sharing my knowledge, especially with those living in isolation.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

JPM: I really do believe that if anything has a chance to create a more peaceful world, it’s art. We don’t decide to be artists: we are called. Our voices are all so different – each stemming from past experiences, how we view our environment, time we share with individuals, and cultures we are surrounded by – but each voice speaks to its own truth. We have a responsibility to respond to hate, violence, and pain we humans bring this world. If we use our varying voices to speak to these issues, we shine light that becomes truth and beauty. I have come to recognize artists as therapists for the soul, spiritual versions of chiropractors. Art is healing and we are its vessel. Sometimes, we too are the ones that are in need of this healing and when we create and share, we gain strength and knowledge.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

JPM: My work is not an individual piece of art. I founded and direct JUNTOS Collective – a non-profit dance company that empowers individuals and inspires community building across national boundaries with a strong focus in Latin America through teaching, learning, and exchanging dance.

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS addresses the need for human connections to inspire one another to create positive change and simultaneously to heal suffering. It is the first collective comprised of university students at various competitive dance conservatories dedicated to creating community across international borders through dance. In partnering with various communities in Central America and the United States, JUNTOS introduces an innovative method in which participants maintain and strengthen national and international relationships while encouraging individuals to become persons serving others. JUNTOS recognizes the many problems humanity faces and attempts to reconcile differences, offering a new method to create change.

JUNTOS Collective

JUNTOS Collective

By using community outreach in art, I hope to offer expression, inspiration, healing, sharing, and most importantly, love. Being in love does not consist of loving everything; being in love with life and with what you do exerts kindness, imagination, drive, how you live your life and can lead to a compassionate and honest world. I propose to offer a piece of this love with my company. I hope to inspire others to share love, weave communities, people, and differences together to create a more peaceful world.

JUNTOS Collective

Who or what inspires you?

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