Artist interview between Shannon Skye Robinson (Curating Futures Project Coordinator), and Micaela de Vivero (Curating Futures Artist).
Date of Interview: 18th of July 2021
Participants: Shannon Skye Robinson (SSR) and Micaela de Vivero (MdV)
SSR: What is your background?
MdV: I studied Art at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador where I received my undergraduate degree. Later, I earned my Master in Fine Arts at Alfred University – located in Alfred, New York – where I focused specifically on sculpture. Following those two educational experiences, I have been able to pursue artist residencies around the world. Those experiences have informed my artistic production, as has my career as an art professor - in Ecuador and later on in the USA.
SSR: How did you get into art/ creativity?
MdV: I did get into art in college. I started out as an ecology major but soon felt that I wanted to pursue a career that was more open-ended.
I am very interested in the exploratory, non-prescribed nature of art. As a practicing artist, I find that artmaking is limitless, and that constant potential to reset the rules is very appealing to me. Art production comes from a variety of procedures. One phase that I am very passionate about relates to, in short, tackling ideas and issues from the point of view of a very curious person, which can include observation and research. Another phase is the materiality or physicality of the work, which includes using materials and techniques in both traditional and non-traditional ways. The last phase is setting up the encounter of the art with its audience. I appreciate these different phases of art production and how the process of making art is very active and varied.
Art for me is a way to engage and understand the world I live in and share those questions with my audience. As the world is such an amazingly interesting place, resources to make art are endless.
SSR: What do you get out of producing work?
MdV: For me, producing work is an exercise out of which something new gets generated. I love the possibilities to be able to create something that has connections with the world but has the potential to point towards something new, something which eventually will go beyond words and maybe even rational thought.
SSR: How do you want your work to be perceived by an audience?
MdV: I want my audience to be able to have an experience of exploration. I do not want my audience to leave the experience having a fixed idea, but rather having felt engaged and leaving with questions.
SSR: Who are your biggest inspirations?
MdV: I am constantly looking at other artists. There are so many brilliant artists who make and have made amazing art. Currently, I am very engaged with the work of Tania Bruguera, who at this moment is in Havana, Cuba, being part of the cry for change that is being requested by many Cubans. Where does the line get drawn between art and politics, or does there need to be a line? Another great inspiration is Brazilian artist Lygia Clark, who in the ’60s declared her abandonment of art, which actually became a proposal for reinventing art. I also feel inspired by artists who fight their own personal fights more privately. Artists as Judith Scott, an American fibre sculptor born deaf and with Down Syndrome, ended up producing amazing art, which certainly pushes traditional boundaries.
SSR: What are the main concepts or themes you explore within your work?
MdV: My artistic proposition is embedded in ruptures. The first, and maybe most obvious one, is the rupture with traditional materials and techniques to make sculpture. I feel that my proposition is 3-dimensional, but the materials I use are intentionally making references away from traditional sculpture materials. The materials I use, such as yarn and thread, are definitely tied to women’s labour, in addition to my use of crochet as a recurrent technique. I also explore scale and monumentality in non-traditional materials and techniques through repetition, allowing for the audience to encounter a physical experience through the use of installation.
A theme I am currently exploring is decoloniality. Having grown up in Latin America, I experienced a world in which a variety of colonial forces have employed their influence in different ways throughout different periods. I have and continue to explore this theme through the use of gold leaf in my work. Gold was extracted from the Latin American colonies, while natives were forced into enslavement for its extraction. Gold mining unleashed a cycle of greed that in many ways tainted the relationship between colonizer and colonized, developing into the serious issues of inequalities our world is facing today.
Oro no es/Gold, is it not? Mixed media, 2021
SSR: What is the main thing you have learnt through your creative practice?
MdV: A way of living the world.
SSR: Who is your work for? Yourself? A small community? A specific sector of society? Or is it for everyone?
MdV: My aspiration is that it is for everyone and definitely everyone who wants to experience it.
SSR: What is the best piece of advice you could give to another artist, or someone just starting out in the creative sector?
MdV: To believe in themselves. You are faced with doubts constantly, and it’s your own drive that helps you follow through.
SSR: Why did you decide to join the Curating Futures community?
MdV: With the pandemic, it was difficult to create a community. One way to create a meaningful community that emerged during the pandemic is online. I’m excited to join this group!