“Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.”
Said John Ruskin, an English art critic. With that quote we begin our segment: Fine Art Fridays. Fine Art Fridays consists of profiles of various artists in our Rio Piedras campus, giving them a chance to showcase their talents and goals of their artistic works.
Today I will be presenting a very talented artist that I had the pleasure to meet. Her name is Mariceliz Pagán Gómez, she is 22 years old, and she is a student at the UPR Rio Piedras campus. She majors in Fine Arts, specializing in painting. After an exchange of several messages from Whatsapp, I was finally able to meet her in the heart of the arts of our campus, the Humanities Faculty. She was more than nice to bring her art work, a collection of intaglio prints in dry point technique of different sizes and meanings. When I first saw them, I immediately thought of it as a reinvention of the human anatomy, one which represents real abstract elements that cannot be seen physically in our bodies or in human nature. For me, her intaglio prints were a contemporary and almost fantastic version of Rembrandt’s 1632 oil painting “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp”. Accompanied with intricate details, careful strokes, shadows, and contours, Mariceliz showed me an art that speaks for itself. On that note, we began our interview.
HCUPR Contributor: What made you become an artist?
Mariceliz: I’ve always had the urge to draw and paint, since I was little. I stumbled upon moments when I was unsure if it was the right decision to study art and try to become an artist, but I inevitably gave in, because I honestly didn’t know what else I wanted to do with my life, besides that.
HCUPR Contributor: How would you describe your style of art?
Mariceliz: I would describe it maybe as figurative and I explore it through printmaking and drawing, mostly. I explore how the body can infinitely redefine itself, and how I can redefine it on my own terms and how can reconstruction and refiguration be inherent to the body. I use myself as reference because I feel it is the most sincere way I can produce art.
HCUPR Contributor: Do you have an inspiration?
Mariceliz: In formal and thematic aspects I find influence in the works of Egon Schiele, Hans Bellmer, Louise Bourgeois, HR Giger. The list is long but, I have learned a lot from these particular artists.
HCUPR Contributor: Where may we find you?
Mariceliz: I am participating in a collective exhibition in a new gallery that opened in campus in El Centro de Estudiantes, Galería Ínsula. The exhibition is titled “Cuerpos Refigurados” and it is going to be open till October 13th. You can stay informed of other activities that will be occurring through the gallery’s Instagram and Facebook.
Facebook: Mariceliz Pagan Gomez
Instagram: Galería Ínsula
Facebook: Galería Ínsula
HCUPR Contributor: Do you have a message you would like to give with or through you art? If you do, what is the message?
Mariceliz: Throughout my process I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, to accept my body, to construct and deconstruct it in my works, because I have, and should have, the liberty to do so. I’m still figuring out my process and what exactly are my intentions when creating these images, but one of the many messages I would like to express through my art is to embrace this liberty within ourselves and to learn to accept our bodies, in all of its many aspects.
HCUPR Contributor: What advice would you give to artists that wish to begin to work on an artistic career?
Mariceliz: If you are really just starting, I would highly recommend to produce, practice and a lot. Investigate through your creative process and other artists; look up their artworks and influences that you can use as inspiration. Visit museums, art galleries, to soak up visual and theoretical information. Try and find the connections between your artworks. Don’t discard pieces that you think do not work. Don’t get discouraged with the idea that everything has been done and find the way you can contribute and create new arguments. Be an avid observer.
HCUPR Contributor: Have you had to overcome an obstacle throughout your artistic career? How did you overcome it?
Mariceliz: Studying art and trying to pursue a career in art is really complicated, well, at least for me. It’s being on the verge of wanting to change majors, or to pursue a master’s degree in some other discipline, and to use it as a magical cloak to conceal the fact that I studied art, and probably won’t find a steady job. It’s feeling bad nobody bought that art work you had on that exhibition, and feeling very excited you sold one for 5 dollars. It’s wanting to do everything, wanting to be a lot of things. Feeling stressed out and utterly frustrated and insecure, but finding yourself and becoming more confident in the process, acknowledging it can be worth it in the end. My motivations are not necessarily to become a successful artist, desperately find the ways to live of my art, and turn it into a product, although inevitably it is or will be, in this extremely capitalist driven society. I make art, because I literally can’t help it. My motivation thrives from the littlest things. The little, new things I always come across when creating. When people recognize, appreciate or try to interpret my work from a critical or aesthetic point of view, it’s always rewarding and always a learning experience, from both parts.
When she brought me her prints, we were trying to place them nicely to take pictures. We struggled a bit, moving from spot to spot due to the strong winds that day. But thankfully we were able to find a perfect place to take pictures of Mariceliz and her works. Seeing it all come together made me feel like I was a part of an intimate upbringing between an artist and her work. I was a spectator of a beautiful, passionate relationship. It gave me an up-close understanding of the dedication an artist puts in her work; it was as if it shone from her prints. I couldn’t help but imagine all the hard work Mariceliz must have gone through to become the artist she is today when I saw all the prints together, but as we were finishing the interview, I could tell it was all worth it.
As students, citizens, friends, and art admirers, we need to support artists and their works. Art is an essential element to society and culture; it’s not only for entertainment, it’s almost a revolution, a movement. Art is everything for many people’s lives, and it’s disappointing that many of us don’t recognize that. That is what Fine Art Fridays is all about, to provide a real-world view of the life of an artist and to admire the beauty that comes from the artist. It is a privilege to be among creative people, because they transform everything around us, whether it is bringing out the beauty in the simplest things or revealing the harsh truth behind a paradigm. With that said, I invite everyone to attend to Mariceliz’s exhibition next week, also because it is curated by Her Campus UPR’s own, Dariana Carolina.
I would like to thank Mariceliz for taking her time to show me her artwork, answering the questions I had for her, for letting me take pictures, and for staying true to her passions and talents, for they are meant to be expressed, like any true artist.