No artwork exists in a vacuum. From Pablo Picasso to Kehinde Wiley, art is often in constant dialogue with itself and others and with history and dominant culture. Knowing contexts and backgrounds give us a richer understanding of the nuances and interventions that art makes possible in the world. Additionally, dynamic careers in the Arts are often bolstered by new and innovative work that engages with social realities and the world around it.
This series is designed to examine not only the work of practicing contemporary artists, but also to create dialogue around their work, highlight how art engages the world, speak to its influences, and examine how innovation helps build vibrant careers.
Rolando André López
Rolando André López.
MFA in Creative Writing
As a Borinqueño--from Borikén, the Island known to Americans as Puerto Rico--I call myself what I carry: my lineage and history of hard work, sacrifice, and love and joy; to use the words of James Baldwin, my family comes from "thank God, many colors!" This confluence of genetic and historic influences places me at home in so many histories: the 18th century country Spaniard getting on a boat to the "New World" in search of new hope; the African stolen from his land in the 19th century; the Afro-Hispanic Boricua working the sugar fields in the 20th century; the landowner overseeing the workers, at times violently imposing his will: these all have something to do with me, for all these characters are in the history of my blood. At CCA, I have been able to process this history into writing, availing myself of resources that range from supportive professors to caring professionals in the counseling department who are open to helping artists in their road to self-realization. With the help of professors like Joseph Lease, Aimee Phan, Faith Adiele, and Denise Newman, I have found new creative spaces to nurture as a writer. And in the Learning Resource Center, I've had the honor to help incredibly talented artists find a voice for their work in writing. I hope to continue this vibrant interdisciplinary work.
Whether I'm coaching at the LRC, with my peers in the Animation studio, or workshopping my thesis in a poetry seminar, I am always learning from the perspectives of people whose experience is vastly different from mine. We come from such different contexts, histories, and "symbolic imaginaries"--those stories and dreams that harbor our most profound self-truths--and yet we all find a common, transversal language to relate with, a language grounded in relationship, empathetic listening, compassion, and resistance against oppression, both internally and externally. Among students here, I am undertaking an education in artistic liberation unto community.
How do you anticipate CCA helping build your career?
It is enough to be grateful for the inspiration of working with creative professionals whose accomplishments and discipline I admire. But being able to establish bonds of creative collaboration with them, and developing community dynamics with the CCA community, has helped me to establish a base of communication here in San Francisco--as a pedagogue of creative and academic writing, as a poet-performer, and as a writer. By sheer exposure to professionalism--both in the student and the faculty population--CCA promotes fruitful creative exchange and professional growth in the arts. The people are themselves an education.
Words of advice?
Be impeccable with your word, don't make assumptions, don't take it personally, and always do your best. Show up for yourself. I believe everyone shines with purpose.
Scan QR code or select image to read 5 Poems by Rolando Andre Torres (login to CCA account to access)
Mateo Sof Allier Lechuga
Mateo Sof Allier Lechuga.
Queerness and being latine are two things that strongly influence my work. My first big animated project, "Tránsito", talked about the stuggles of navigating public spaces in México as a trans nonbinary person. Before that, I've made drawings accompanied with my thought on the gender and language binary. These are subjects that I had wanted to talk about since highschool, but I didn't know how to put it into words or visuals very well. Foundational classes such as 4D and Writing gave me building blocks with which to start putting my ideas together. These classes introduced me to a lot of artists who've been inspiring to me, as well as new techniques and mediums that have been essential in my craft.
How has access to multiple perspectives and diversity in your work influenced or changed your career prospects in the arts?
Having access to multiple perspectives has been nothing but positive in my work. Being given feedback is always helpful, and it allows me to improve my work, as well as make sure that my ideas come across clearly. I'm also exposed to different ways of looking and creating. Sometimes I hit a wall in my work and need to employ other techniques which I wouldn't know about if I shut myself off from other perspectives. I'm glad to be in a learning environment where my peers and teachers can share their views with me.
How do you anticipate CCA helping build your career?
Being in an art community such as CCA is great for networking, and that's one of the most important things needed once you graduate. I know I'll bump into past teachers and classmates again, which is why I'm happy that I've gotten to meet so many people, and been able to share my work with them. If people know you and know how you work, hopefully they'll think of you for a job in the future!
Trevi Alohilani Pendro
This event is designed to examine not only the work of practicing contemporary artists, but also to create dialogue around their work, highlight how art engages the world, speak to its influences, and examine how innovation helps build vibrant careers. Q & A to follow. April 20th from 4-5pm via Zoom on Handshake. Co-sponsored by Career Development.
View presentation on Ponopto: Creative Connections with Trevi Alohilani Pendro