INTERVIEW WITH REA LYNN DE GUZMAN, FEATURED ARTIST FOR THE APATURE 2017 VISUAL ARTS SHOWCASE
Every year, APAture opens with the Visual Arts Showcase at Arc Gallery, where we get to present our first featured artist of the festival! This year, we are excited to have interdisciplinary artist, Rea Lynn de Guzman, show some work from her Retaso series. As our second APAture Spotlight, Rea unravels her journey of becoming an artist in San Francisco. Read more about Rea's artistic experiences below:
What kind of artists or artwork are you inspired by or has influenced the kind of work that you make?
Among many others, I’m inspired by the works of Yinka Shonibare, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Do Ho Suh.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist? What about it drove you to pursue art?
I began as a business major in college, and ended-up taking art classes at the City College of San Francisco for fun and to satisfy some requirements. I found it so enjoyable, challenging, and cathartic that I took more art classes. I realized I wanted to be an artist after I transferred to the San Francisco Art Institute for my junior year as an undergrad.
Initially, art felt like a cathartic process, a way to gather my thoughts and express it in a creative output. Over time, it helped me deal with my displacement, familial disconnect, and experiences I’ve encountered as a Filipina immigrant living in the US. Prior to pursuing art, I didn’t know how to face all of these emotions — especially during my early teens. I enjoyed the challenges that came along with art, it wasn’t easy, and it made me a stronger person.
Having immigrated to the states and living and working in the Bay Area, how has being an artist here contributed to your practice over time?
Having lived in San Francisco for 17 years, I have had an incredible opportunity to form fruitful relationships with local, non-profit art organizations that give back to the community through art. I’ve been lucky to be involved with Root Division, Kearny Street Workshop, Southern Exposure, and Visual Aid. Through these organizations, I’ve met and worked with many artists, as well as mentored youth and adult art enthusiasts. I value all of these experiences. San Francisco has such a rich, heart-filled community of diverse voices; as an artist, I can’t ask for anything more inspirational.
Without giving away too much, can you talk about the significance of using different media in your work from acrylic to image transfers to prints and piña fiber?
My art background has been a combination of painting and printmaking, so my work evolved as a hybrid of both. I like to get lost in my materials and the symbolism behind it. Over the years, I’ve been drawn to the process of image transfers due to its liminal nature. It’s fascinating how an image starts from one place and travels to another, resulting in a whole new possibility of composition, which I can layer repeatedly. I find the materiality of piña fiber to be complex — tied historically to Spanish colonialism in the Philippines, signifying a play in power structure and status between the colonizer and the colonized, between gender statuses surrounding femininity, patriarchy, and influenced by religion.
What is one thing you are struggling with or have struggled with to sustain your art practice? Do you have any advice for any artists of color or artists in the Asian Pacific American community on this?
One main thing I struggle with is the ability to balance everything — particularly not having enough time and energy to juggle life (day job, teaching, volunteer work, art shows, events, etc.) and prioritize my studio practice. As an emerging artist of color, you have to always be proactive, work twice as hard, remain visible and have your voice heard. Often times, lack of opportunities, rejections, and other life pressures may threaten your confidence as an artist. My advice is not to give up, keep trying, and just do the best you can.
What are the interconnected threads we wish to investigate and untangle? What is there to discover when we unravel?
Meet Rea and see her work in person at the Festival Opening and Visual Arts Showcase happening Saturday, September 30, 6-10PM at Arc Gallery!
After that, take a look at the rest of the showcases for APAture 2017!