Also Presenting: S Paola Lopez R!
We focused our interviews on the perspectives our artists have because they have lived in other cities outside of El Paso at some point in their career. Our second artist presenting at Frijol Feasts Vol. IV comes to us all the way from Colombia. Paola recently moved to the border city and is exploring the potential for community engagement through performance and a merging of her diverse artistic background. Enjoy!
CC: What is your background as an artist? What drives you?
SPLR: My background as an artist is very diverse. I can describe it as a coming together of my interest in improvisation, social dances, meditation, development and activism.
What drives me is the need for social justice in our world and my desire to contribute as much as I can to building a culture of peace.
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?
SPLR: The landscape. Originating from a very green and tropical country, I am fascinated by the stillness I see in nature here. There is something magical about the desert.
CC: Is there potential for artists to grow and be challenged here? How and in what way?
SPLR: The geographical isolation of this region has proved to be very challenging for me as an artist. I think it challenges local artists to actively seek for new trends and movements beyond the city, and that is very growthful.
CC: What support have you received for your work in El Paso? What support would you like to have access to as an artist?
SPLR: I have received a lot of encouragement and support (words of wisdom, collaborations, networking, etc.) from other artists and art-lovers in the area. I would like to have more financial support to expand my community engagement, right now I am very limited in what I can do since I can’t afford to stop doing gigs that generate income.
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?
SPLR: As I stated before, El Paso is very isolated, at least in terms of dance. I feel it desperately needs more opportunities to see works from artists outside of the community. I would love to see more national and international artists coming through El Paso.
I do love the biculturality (is that a word?) of the area, how grounded artists are in exploring their roots and what connects them to this area.
CC: What is the role of art in a community? In society? SPLR: Bringing people together and celebrating life
CC: How could artistic practices address the cultural identity and needs of this community?
SPLR: I have issues with our definition of “identity” and wether or not it is useful to have one (in terms of growth and development)... I have actually explored this idea in my project.
CC: How does/could your artistic practice engage the community? Why is that engagement important?
SPLR: My art is community-driven and community-integrated. It is inherently related to my community organizing and my teaching, it is not something that is isolated from the rest of my life. I am dedicated to outreach, to bringing artistic improvisation and creativity to the public, to spaces where it is usually absent.
I have an ever-growing commitment to develop a performance language between me and who I perform with. It's a process of building together, where the emphasis is in finding the connections between space, environment, performers and audience.
Engaging community in the art-making process and giving them agency and responsibility in how they perceive and interpret art is vital to creating conversations about the relationship between aesthetics and social issues.
CC: What role does the community have in the production/creation/inception/initiation/activation (choose which words you feel best applies) of art?
SPLR: See last answer