Exploring the mind and habits of an artist in twenty-five questions
by Stephanie Cassidy | February 1, 2022
I was always an artist. I decided to make it a profession in 2011. After graduating from Santa Rosa Junior College in California, I moved to New York City. In 2013, I graduated with my BFA in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. The investment clarified my intention and was reaffirmed by getting my MFA at the Yale School of Art. In 2015, I took my diploma and moved back to New York, and now I work here while living in Jersey City. I have a studio at Mana Contemporary that I share with my husband, artist Ryan Bonilla.
I am the second artist in my family: my cousin is a pianist in Mexico. But he and I are the first generation to make art a way of life. All parents worry if their kids will make it financially, but everything is working out so far. It was the right choice. My family emigrated to the US. My siblings and I endured the immigrant experience, and so being an artist is a gamble. Most careers are, but art has great potential and risk. I believe, as I am an immigrant, that risk and hope are part of my DNA. So here I am. If my siblings want to be artists, too, I will support that. My siblings always believed in me. I believe in their achievements, too.
I have many favorites: Frida Kahlo, Marc Chagall, Gustav Klimt, Joyce Kozloff, Diego Rivera.
Books on botanical illustration.
Perseverance. I think being an artist is about authenticity. That comes from being confident, beyond what the art market values.
I keep a sketchbook to develop my painting ideas. Sketching is like thinking for me. It’s very fun to just draw for fun.
The Morgan Library had an exquisite exhibit of Picasso drawings a few years ago. It showed his drawing development from childhood to his later years.
An immigration lawyer.
I had and still do: a few mentors in Santa Rosa, California, mostly older artists who acted like my teachers. An art collector by the name of Jack Leissring is one of them.
How to handle the business side of being an artist. I wish to have learned more about writing, too, particularly how to write grants, and how to express the intentions in my work.
It’s a hard question to answer. I love Marc Chagall’s work. I have spent many hours looking at his work in person and in books or online.
I love fashion, garments and how they are made. I find clothing very interesting.
Yes, it helps me paint. Sometimes, I listen to politics or the news, but it gets a bit depressing.
I recently saw a new show at the Vito Schnabel Gallery. That’s the last show I saw: works by Lance De Los Reyes.
I rather not answer this question as it’s so quantitative. I think people should look at art regardless of the artist’s fame. Look at the art because of its merit and quality.
My brushes. Watercolor paper.
I would say I paint about four days a week. I like taking breaks. Sometimes it is good not to make anything. I think there is more to life than just making art. I like being out in the world.
The longest time I spent without creating is two weeks. I think one can spend many months not knowing what to make or having a creative block. I experienced creative lows in art school.
A balance of the color, political, symbolic, the personal, and universal. Time. How long can I keep my audience feeling surprised? Edge versus line.
I have achieved freedom. I hope to keep it. I have everything I need and am happy. Creatively there is always more, but I like to be spontaneous about it. Not knowing what I will make next is part of the freedom.
Accessibility to seeing new art as it’s being made. Exposure.
MARIA DE LOS ANGELES (@delosangelesart) teaches “Figure Drawing” at the Art Students League of New York.