Now presenting! Angie Reza Tures

We're pleased to bring you a series of q&a's with the artists who will be presenting at Frijol Feasts Vol. IV! To kick off the series, we offer you a wonderful collection of ideas from Angie Reza Tures, documentary filmmaker and the artist scheduled to kick off our artist presentations at the feast! Just as you may do in a moment, we also smiled when we realized her initials spell ART! Enjoy!

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CC: What is your background as an artist? What drives you?

ART: My background as an artist began with music. I played guitar but then decided, after taking my first video production class in college, that I really enjoyed composing visually as well as musically. What resulted was working in the independent documentary film industry in San Francisco for 9 years and teaching documentary filmmaking in El Paso for the past three. What drives me as a filmmaker is knowing that it can be a powerful medium for raising questions, challenging perceptions, and inspiring positive change.

CC: All three artists who are presenting at this feast have either recently moved to or moved back to El Paso. What do you find most inspiring about this city? ART: I'm inspired by El Paso and Juarez artists. They're innovative, fearless and socially conscious. They tell important stories with their artwork about what it means to live, and love it, here.

CC: Is there potential for artists to grow and be challenged here? How and in what way? ART: El Pasoans don't have any pretentious preconceptions of what should be defined as "El Paso art". Instead, I feel that everyone realizes just how important their own individual voices are and they challenge themselves towards achieving that. I don't see anyone trying to copy anyone else. That sort of reinvention I think inevitably leads to personal and professional growth...and is always a challenge.

CC: What support have you received for your work in El Paso? What support would you like to have access to as an artist? ART: I have received three artist grants from the city, one for photography from the WIC program and two from MCAD to teach documentary filmmaking to youth. I have also generously received space to teach my classes/workshops from the Glasbox, La Fe Cultural and Technology Center, and Latinitas, Inc. I would love access to a local site that held monthly hosted viewing parties of artists' work. It would serve two purposes: showcase local talent and create a community where artists can interact to collaborate on future projects.

CC: Having lived in various other places, how would you compare the climate for artists in El Paso with that of other cities? What makes El Paso's art community unique? How can it be strengthened? ART: From my experience, I've found that there is immense community support for artists in El Paso. Artists support other artists. Your family, friends, co-workers, hair stylist, and even dentist will all go out of their way to support your project. That's invaluable. Few cities that I have lived in provide this kind of strong community support. I think El Paso thrives on "Where there's a will, there's a way" as well. We get things done no matter what. Again, I think what will strengthen this community is a place for artists to meet up monthly to share each other's project, experiences, advice, and skills and resources to help make other projects happen in the future.

CC: What is the role of art in a community? In society? ART:I think that the role of art in a community depends on that community. Location has a lot to do with what inspires artists towards creating certain types of art. It can be cultural, political, or simply a unique aesthetic based on an artists' experience. I think art, both in a community and in society, serves partly entertaining and partly educational purposes. It teaches us about who we are in an engaging, new way.

CC: How could artistic practices address the cultural identity and needs of this community? ART: This is a great question that is hard to answer in only one way because cultural identity is different to a lot of people, especially growing up on the border. I feel that a lot of El Paso art work is unique to the artist in how he/she identifies with the city and what he/she feels is the growing need of this community. Every voice is important and essential for El Paso to hear. They each address several needs, some of which we've never even thought of before.

CC: How does/could your artistic practice engage the community? Why is that engagement important? ART: When I teach filmmaking to the community, I emphasize using media as a means for positive change. As a filmmaker, I believe in the same thing. My latest film includes my personal take on Mexican-American identity and the experience I felt growing up as an El Pasoan. Not only do I feel that the film will engage El Pasoans and offer a different perspective about growing up here, I wish to engage the community by asking them to be involved with the entire production. I will then be submitting the film to local, national, and international film festivals. After screenings commence, I'll engage my community in a different way: by sharing my experience and teaching not only documentary filmmaking, but narrative as well.

CC: What role does the community have in the production/creation/inception/initiation/activation (choose which word you feel best applies) of art? ART: I think that community involvement in essential for artists. Individuals can offer help or resources at any stage. If no help can be offered, simply being present at the exhibition, screening, performance, or other form of presentation is huge! Bonus points for telling an artist your thoughts about their work.

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