Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Alexandra Rodríguez Chaves

With the internet being so easy to access, it has become easier for independent artists to find an audience and let their work be known. As a result, a variety of movements, collectives, and scenes have found a way to pave their path. The independent art scene in Puerto Rico is no different. Recently, many artists from a variety of disciplines have found platforms that have made it easier for them to share their work. In addition, small businesses such as Electroshock in Santurce and Rio Piedras, bars like Off The Wall in Mayaguez, book stores like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla, Libros AC in Santurce and Libros 787 online, and independent festivals like Feria de Libros Independientes y Alternativos and Tintero: Festival de Cómics y Arte Independiente de Puerto Rico have provided up-and-coming artists a space to display their talents. “Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene” is a series of  interviews that provides a glimpse at some of the women who have recently gained recognition in the art scene. Though the artists are asked similar questions, some are asked queries surrounding their work, specifically.

What’s your name and what do you do in the arts?

My name is Alexandra N. Rodríguez Chaves and I am an illustrator, architect and designer.

What got you into the visual arts and graphic design?

I graduated from the Architecture program at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. Before school, I did a lot of drawing by hand, but once I learned how to work with different programs I began making collages. I want my art to include architecture and capture its cleanness, color combinations, functionality, the complexity of rethinking space and design, fiction versus reality, etc.

How did you develop your style?

I was always re-designing my drawings and contemplating other artists in museums and their styles. I feel I’m still developing my style, but I am getting closer and closer to achieving my vision. An artist never stops learning and growing and changing; that is what makes art so pure, magical and awesome!

How has it evolved through the years?

My work has evolved a lot. I started off drawing psychedelic style stuff and then I was trying out every medium possible so I could learn about what I liked. Now, I’m mostly working with spaces in my illustrations, which I love! Evolving is always positive!

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

This is a really tough question since I have a lot of influences and inspirations! I’ll mention a few but the list is neverending. Architecture-wise, people like Luis Barragán, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd wright, Heinrich Klumb, Oscar Niemayer etc. Art wise, Gustav Klimt,  but also the most important influences are the amazing independent Puerto Rican women that are doing an awesome work such as: Jimena Lloreda, Mia Pagan, Nicol Rodriguez, Guanina Cotto, Karena Taveras, Elizabeth Barreto, Gaby Pagan, Camila Buxeda, Mónica Parada, Andrea Alfaro, Andrea Lynn, etc. These are the women who make me want to create more and more every day! Thanks to all of them for the inspiration!

Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?

Oh yes, I would love to get back into painting and mixed media. Don’t get me wrong, I love digital design, but there’s nothing more beautiful than human imperfection and using your hands to draw and paint. I feel it really connects you to your pieces.

What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?

We definitely need more of an art scene in Puerto Rico! AND MORE PEOPLE THAT VALUE THE ARTS! We also need more events in the west. If it wasn’t for all the hard working independent artists there would be no art scene at all in Puerto Rico. It’s sad but true.

What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?

I feel like independent art is growing a lot and lately there have been a lot of events in San Juan. Amazing art events! A lot of people are working hard for their art, and let me tell you it is really really hard to be an independent artist! Sometimes you can feel so frustrated that you stop creating for months, but if you keep working and you don’t surrender, you can get somewhere and that’s what’s happening with these artists. They are not giving up even if the road is almost impossible.

If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?

I would say to her: Art is everything so pursue your dreams and believe in yourself and what you do 100%. Don’t let anybody or anything kill your dreams! With patience and desire you will get where you want.

What is your biggest goal right now?

My biggest goal is to travel the world and learn about the architecture and design in every place I visit. Of course, I also want to be able to make a living through making art and see my designs become reality.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

As I mentioned before, I would like to see my architectural designs come to life. I would love to have an architecture and design firm eventually and help others with their spaces.


All  the pictures in this article were provided by Alexandra Rodríguez Chaves