Art as a form of meditation for artists


A panel discussion presented by James MacDevitt, director/curator of the Cerritos College Art Gallery, included Michael Alvarez, Jasmine Delgado, Julia Orquera Bianco and Tarrah Krajnak. Alvarez explains his attention to detail in his painting Nana and the Big Dogs. Photo credit: Carmelita Islas Mendez

Carmelita Islas Mendez

James MacDevitt, director and curator of the Cerritos College Art Gallery, hosted a SUR: biennial panel discussion that included artists such as Jasmine Delgado, Julia Orquera Bianco, Tarrah Krajnak and Michael Alvarez.

The many themes that emerged during the presentations was coping with change and pain, finding a personal identity and the importance of family to each artist’s’ styles.

Bianco explained that the inspiration for her art comes from making sense of painful experiences, such as the effects of the Dirty War on Argentina.

“All my work has a very deep link with my personal experience and I am always hoping I can translate that into a more universal experience, but it always has to do with my experience,” Bianco said.

Vuelos (Flights), a piece that is currently being exhibited in the Art Gallery, is inspired by the effects war had on Argentina.

Bianco, being from Argentina, said that she felt motivated to create Vuelos to address the lost identity she was afraid it would occur if she left her country and through it cultivate a deeper self-identity.

Bianco said she is moving on to alternative formats to work with, such as video performance and installations including discarded furniture she finds around the city.

In her introduction, Krajnak explained that she had been adopted from Peru by a “multi-racial” Pennsylvanian family and is intrigued by her Peruvian roots, which has greatly influenced her works.

SISMOS79 is a large ongoing project documenting Peru in 1979, which was an unstable time because of the shift from a dictatorial government to the beginnings of war.

“I set out not to recover some “authentic” identity, but rather to pull together archival materials, photographs, untold narratives, and images in an effort to invent something like a psychic history of that year, and locate myself within it,” Krajnak wrote on her website of the project.

Krajnak is currently working on a documentary and working on a performance piece in which she “re-makes” Ansel Adams’ “The Making of 40 Photographs”.

Delgado, being a San Fernando Valley native, began her project by her awareness of space and connection to significant landmarks.

“I started thinking of iconic signs littered in the landscape and [wanted to] memorialize them when I realized that the landscape was changing really quickly,” Delgado said.

The landmarks were photographed and printed. A collage was made out of a combination of the photographs and new landscapes were created to create the pieces for her project called Mapping Los Angeles.

Delgado said she is hoping to work more with textiles and experimenting with drawing with a sewing machine.

Alvarez said that his inspiration for his art came from daily observations that seemed “beautiful” or special, which mostly revolve around human interactions and his experiences.

Human interactions inspire his art process and that includes spaces that may look crowded and overwhelming, but this is where he sees a sense of gathering and community.

“I really enjoy working on paintings as a form of meditation,” Alvarez said, “I’m sure if I wasn’t making art I would be punching a lot more walls.”

Alvarez said that he currently has no concrete plans for the near future.