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Art & Life with Lisa Abaya

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Abaya.

Lisa, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My story is similar to many artists, in that I grew up feeling like an outsider. I was born in San Francisco, to a Mexican Serbian mother and a Chinese father, who never liked to follow the rules. Early on, I was taught about my heritage but I never understood cultural identity, nor did I appreciate other people’s strong sense of roots. I went to many cultural events and yet I felt the scrutiny of people because I didn’t speak the language or look a specific way. I became accustomed to feeling “other” and began cultivating my own visual language and culture. This shaped my rebellion and led to my passion for painting.

My parents were strict with me growing up, but they also allowed me the freedom to take huge risks. They applauded excellence and hard work. For thirteen years I studied ballet at the San Francisco Ballet school, in a rigorous, preprofessional program. From the age of three, I decided I was going to be a principal ballet dancer. During my sophomore year of high school, I decided to drop out. I saw that a dance career was demanding and short-lived. I grew tired of conforming my body and art to the standards of perfection and beauty of ballet directors. I wanted more control and freedom. I had always made art and was studying fine arts simultaneously at a magnet arts high school, so this felt like a natural progression. Dropping dance gave me focus. I applied to art school and have pursued a life of creating ever since.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My paintings are about light and its permanence. I use crude materials and reflective pigments to craft a moving picture. Film and dance have been very important to me and I enjoy the challenge to imbue as much life as I can within a two-dimensional plane. When I was ten, I went to catholic school which informed a lot of my world view. From mass, I learned to appreciate fragrance, gravity and transcendence through a carefully crafted experience. The dark churches with strategic windows created a complete mood and emotion to the spaces. I am committed to the idea that our world is a shell of what it is supposed to be. I use beauty to invite the viewer to “see” the world hidden behind the temporal.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Being an artist and trying to support yourself can be a precarious balance. I do not depend on selling art as a consistent source of income and instead work creative jobs to support my art. Any struggles I face, have become motivations. Those challenges are signs that you are heading in the right direction. Adversity can help you prioritize and determine what is truly important to you.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have a piece currently hanging in the show Truth+ Image, at the International House located in west Philadelphia. This show will be up through mid-December of this year. I also update regularly my website with new works and I mention new shows on my blog. My Instagram is best way to follow my newest projects, design collaborations and inspirations.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Janelle Delia

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