Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Maria Rodriguez.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am a first generation Cuban-American interdisciplinary artist that works predominantly in video installation. Personally, I have always felt a deep kinship with the natural world, which has lead me to focus extensively on climate change, species extinction and political agency. I’m interested in the interconnectivity between humans and other species, and the beautiful and natural systems of existence that we tend to neglect. Both my life and work has forced me to recognize the limitations of conventional language in expressing lived experience. Because language is power, there are many experiences confined to the unspoken. I use art to communicate beyond language, in a way that opens up an experiential space, a space of possibility, for the viewer to explore alternate ways of connecting to the emotional realities of others.
Please tell us about your art.
I merge and blend mediums to create animated fantastical landscapes which serve to represent mental spaces. I use live video, performance, digital animation, photography, drawing, collage, and installation to create new, immersive pictorial spaces for the viewer to explore aesthetically, conceptually and emotionally. I also strive to find unique ways of thinking about our relationship to the earth and to other species – such as envisioning the earth as a brain experiencing climate change as trauma, or by linking the ecological loss of extinct species to the personal cultural loss of my deceased Cuban ancestors. Ultimately, I use art to create an opportunity for connection and engagement, and I strive for my practice to be relevant to the multiple challenges facing our planet.
My current in-progress project, funded by The CreateWell Fund, also connects to nature in a nonconventional way. “Legends Breathe” explores the power of creativity and the imagination in overcoming traumatic experiences. For this project, I conduct interviews with female-identified artists about childhood fantasies that assisted them in overcoming trauma. I then create a video in response to each individual fantasy which will eventually be installed together as an interactive installation, highlighting their uniqueness, their commonalities, and their inherent power. A primary element evident in all the fantasies is their harvesting of strength and transcendence through a deep connection to nature. The work is populated by endangered species and threatened habitats, conveying a link between the trauma and healing of our planet to that of the individual. The work celebrates the power of creativity as well as the power of nature as a creative force.
Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I personally have always seen the role of the artist as an active participant in the creation of culture, as a cultural worker. I think what defines one as an “artist” is not technique or skill (though that is important), but the ability to see beyond manifest reality, to think outside the box, and to communicate in modes vastly divergent from the norm that open up alternative ways of being in the world. I think there are moments in history when artists are considered more valuable to the general population – moments in which we feel lost as a society. I have always strived to make my work politically relevant – our current moment encourages me to continue doing what I do, and to be more vocal about it. I don’t have the abilities of a politician or a scientist, I have those of an artist, and I see it as my responsibility to use them. I also see an integral aspect of my practice as community building, and as providing access, support, and opportunities to other artists, especially those that are underrepresented or who are socially engaged. I do this via my work as an independent curator, my roles as an educator and an organizer, through membership in artist-run spaces such as Fountain Street Gallery, and through my active participation in artist collectives such as the Boston LGBTQIA Artists Alliance (BLAA).
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can see my work on my website, where I also have a news page listing exhibitions and public talks. Some major upcoming local exhibitions include a solo show at the Boston Children’s Museum, a two-person show (with Marie Craig) at Fountain Street Gallery in SoWa Boston, and a solo exhibition at La Galería at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts. You can currently see my work in a group show at 13FOREST Gallery in Arlington (up through May 11th), and I will be in “How Nature Instructs Us” at Suffolk University Gallery this June. I’m extremely excited to have received a 2018 Earthwatch Fellowship to travel to the Churchill Northern Studies Center this summer where I will be embedded in a field research team working on their “Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge” project – please keep a look out for an exhibition of that work next year. You can also support my work by spreading the word about what I do, attending and/or sharing my exhibitions, and following me on Instagram and/or Facebook. Because artists need to eat, I have recently begun selling prints of my work which can be found through contacting Fountain Street Gallery or 13FOREST Gallery. I love connecting with people, so please feel free to contact me through my website if you have questions, thoughts about my work, opportunities, or if you are an artist and want to tell me about your work.
- Website: http://allisonmariarodriguez.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allisonmariarodriguez/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allison.m.rodriguez
Allison Maria Rodriguez