Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with Sebastián Vallejo

q)Please tell us your name and where you practice.

a)My name is Sebastián Vallejo and I’m a NY based artist.

q) Why do you make art?

a)I make art because is the thing I do best and because it’s my passion and I believe in it.

q) How do you work ?

a)I work in my studio during the day. The most productive time is during the morning hours. Most of the time I paint with music: Bob Dylan, Manu Chao, reggae, salsa music, fado, etc

q) What´s your background?

a)I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. My father is an artist (painter) and my mother is a retired professor of the University of Puerto Rico. In 2004 I received a BFA from the University of Puerto Rico and in 2009 an MFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.

q) What role does the artist have in society?

a)The artists should be catalyst and filter during the formation stages of a society.

q) What was a seminal experience for you ?

a)A seminal experience for me was a summer class trip to NY with The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The professors were Terry Myers and Candida Alvarez. It was a revealing experience for me to see how the art world really works, and that if you want to be part of it you’ve got to approach it with maturity and non-romantic ideals.

q) Has your practice changed over time ?

a)My practice is always changing. Every time I start a new body of work, the artistic process is different from the previous one, but without leaving behind what I learned from the last one, as if in an evolutionary process.

q) What art do you most identify with?

a)I identify myself a lot with the art of the second half of the 18th century in Europe, specially the work of William Blake and Turner.

q) What´s your strongest memory of your childhood?

a)My strongest memories as a child are the family reunions made during holidays at the countryside of the island, with the atmosphere filled with popular music, traditional food and alcohol.

q) What themes do you pursue?

a)Some themes that I pursue in my work are for example: The irrationality of the sublime. The expansive and improvisational forces found in nature; and Theological contradictions, among others.

q) Describe a real life experience that inspired you.

a)A real life experience that inspired me was a trip I did when I was still in High School through the Caribbean islands in a sailboat. We sailed from Puerto Rico to Virgin Gorda and back. Since then, I got in love to the Caribbean, specially to its light and colors, where most of my inspiration comes from.

q) What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

a)I’ve worked as a waiter in a coffee shop and as a delivery guy for a restaurant.

q) What responses have you had to your work?

a)I’ve had good and bad responses to my work. Some people hate my work with all their heart, other people think I might have a future…

q) What do you dislike about the art world?

a)What I dislike about the art world is how artificial it can be sometimes.

q) What research do you do?

a)I read a lot of biographies of artist. I try to understand their work based on the places and period of time they lived in. I make researches also on literature, philosophy, culture, religion, and language, among other topics.

q) What is your dream project?

a)My dream project is to never quit doing art and be able to support my family with it.

q) What´s the best piece of advice you have been given ?

a)When I was in my last year in Grad school one professor told me: “ You should give up painting and quit school. If you are going to keep studying art its your choice but if I were you I would think twice what professors should take as an adviser for next semester so I don’t waste their time”. This advice made me put my best through the last phase of Grad school. It is a memory that hunt my mind and make me feel great about my profession. When people don’t understand your profession or your ideas that’s when you know you are in the right path.

q) What couldn’t you do without?

a)I could not be me without the Caribbean in my veins.

q) What makes you angry?

a)When people say, “Be realistic”.

q) What is your worst quality?

a)My worst quality is that I make to many assumptions… I take a lot for granted.

q) Dogs or Cats ?

a)I have a Dalmatian dog and a DSH cat

q) Making art is a lot like being on lsd. Know what I mean ?

a)At the end, making art it’s a state of introspection and liberation.

q) What does “ copy” mean to you ?

a)Not invented

q) What´s your favorite cuss word?

a)“Sea la Madre