Puerto Rican Women Killing It In The Independent Art Scene: Jimena Lloreda Droz

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, and libraries like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla 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.

Jimena Lloreda Droz is a plastic artist who has developed a unique way of designing costumes, puppets, and mix media. She also has a digital comic called “La Arruga,” which “explores topics of my everyday life like education, motherhood, politics etc.”

What got you into mask and costume design?

I have to say a group called Poncili Creación. When I was younger, I did illustrations and photography. I was working and studying art in the UPR (University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras). One day this art collective invited me to experiment with theater. This was followed by two tours around the United States that started with an art residency at The Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont. I visited farms, unschool programs, anarchist spaces, independent bookstores, independent festivals and travelling families. This experience made me believe that dreams were possible. Later on, I traveled to Taiwan for the same purpose, finishing an art residency with the Dream Community in Taipei, Taiwan meant to build a carnival.

What got you into making comics?

As an artist, I experiment with all kinds of art forms. Since I was a teenager, I had multiple sketchbooks with writing and drawings. If I don’t publish them, they will be in my diary.

How do you balance both art forms?

As I mentioned before, comics are easy to make, just with paper and pencil. You can do  them anywhere. Costumes and theater are more complicated. They require more time, complexity, participation of others, spaces, energy, etc. I don’t really know how I balance them. What I know is I can’t stop making any of them.

How did you develop your style?

My style is related to my personal life and personality. At the beginning, my illustrations were messy, had lots of colors, textures and even stains; something like Ralph Steadman or Basquiat. I was hanging out with punks, listening to their music, going to music shows and working a lot. This teenage encounter with the city got me into wheatpasting the streets, writing dark poetry and drawing portraits of weird people. Later on, as I studied art in the university, traveled around and met other artists, I saw those cartoons turning into puppets and masks

 

How has it evolved through the years?

At the beginning and through the process there was a lot of improvised work. Then I began to understand the importance of discipline and practice. Time and priorities changed my work to something faster, but with a clear idea. I believe what makes something good is something  “simple and genuine” and, for me, that’s harder to create. I try to express what I think, feel and discover with simplicity. For now, I’ve been focusing in costumes and comics. In addition, the birth of my son Orion took me into reading about positive discipline and education. I believe life took me to a new topic: the mind. This is why I recently started to study psychology. I don’t think we can really separate art from education, especially with kids.

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

*Mummenschanz

*Victoria Chaplin’s Circus and Jean Baptiste Thierrèe

*Kazuo Ohno

*Pina Bausch

*The performance artist Nick Cave

*Carnival wardrobes from around the world, especially Portugal.

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

If I could, I would choose dancing as a discipline. The body is our instrument for this physical state, it keeps memories of our history, it has amazing healing powers and is through the body that we do everything. Out of all the arts, I really enjoy watching dancers and I’ve always been a fan of Butoh.

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

Like any other place where there is political struggle, the arts are always blooming. It has always been like that. Our history as a colony has made us be present around the world. We have really good and recognized artists in every field. On the other hand, we've been going through a huge crisis that became evident with hurricane Maria. For this and other circumstances, economic help for artists is poor and the art business is very competitive.

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

In these times where  communication tools are highly developed, I see people switching to independent business more and more. Still, there is a risk because there is hardly any help from the government, but we can see the scene succeeding little by little. It  creates a community with their own economic system based on exchange and we should aim for that.

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

Just believe in yourself. If you believe it and you work for it, it will grow.

What is your biggest goal right now?

Give and provide the best education to my son, stay healthy and some day go back to China with my son and my family.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

Be able to live from my art.

All of the articles in this picture were provided by Jimena Lloreda Droz