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.
Marili ‘Mim’ Pizarro is a multidisciplinary artist ranging from movement improvisation, choreography, performance, graphic design and installation. She is a member of the experimental dance collective La trinchera alongside Beatriz Irizarry and Cristina Lugo.
What got you into visual arts?
I draw since childhood. As a child, I had little to no personal reference of what being a professional artist implied, so my most influential form of artwork were video games and animation. I dreamt of being a character or set designer for Final Fantasy or Devil May Cry.
What got you into dance and performance?
I loved to dance and perform as a child. I would participate in school plays, talent shows, forensics and theatre clubs. As a teenager, I was inclined towards performing yet never dared pursue a career in arts. Instead, I graduated from high school in 11th grade and got into the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras (UPRRP) as a history major. The humanities department is a building at the UPRRP, it wasn’t long that I began to glance at the contemporary dance classes with Petra Bravo and Viveca Vázquez, both celebrated professors and dance artist. I started assisting workshops and half a year later a I became a member of the Petra Bravo’s collective Hincapié. It was through her and fellow colleagues Cristina Lugo and Beatriz Irizarry that I believed it was possible to pursue a career in arts.
How do you balance all art forms?
Balance? I’m not sure I do, actually. At times, I feel more inclined to painting, or an urge to dance. I guess I ‘balance’ my practice by defining my work as conceptual. Only after having a solid concept do I ‘figure out’ which media will serve best as format. My practice is a subject to concept.
How did you develop your style?
Through defiance and honesty because I’m an informally- formed, mostly self-educated artist. Many of the things I’ve learnt have been through closely watching and imitating the techniques of renowned artist and friends. It is important to build healthy relationships with your peers in order to grow and solidify your artistic community through intellectual honesty and creative process sharing. They have been my mentors, conspirators and support. I say I developed my style through defiance because one must really struggle to find uniqueness. Uniqueness is a rare and wanted gem; I believe you cultivate it through honesty and self-awareness of your formation and your community.
How has it evolved through the years?
I think my style has somehow polished or refined quite organically. Plainly through maturity. I haven’t really paused since I started ‘doing it’; I’ve kept working regardless until I hit a wall and had to learn how to articulate my work in order to move forward with more ambitious projects.
What are some of your influences and inspirations?
I love fantasy. Even if my work is defined by lack or limit in resources and/or shaped precariously I believe in art as escapism. Often, I revisit mythologies as a source of inspiration. My friends, the history of my country, popular culture and everyday life are also a revisited source.
Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?
I’ve been wanting to learn embroidery for years. It’s craft work. I could use the concentration and habit of this practice as a balance for all the table work I’ve been doing for myself and La trinchera. Another thing I would love to learn is film editing. I’ve done it precariously before, but would love to learn it properly.
What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?
To be honest, I don’t think about ‘the current state of the arts’, ever. I believe meaningful, defiant art has always existed. Puerto Rico is thriving with great artists in all disciplines. What we are lacking is a system that pairs up with the amount of talent that emerges.
What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?
Same! Platforms like IG [Instagram] make it visible for emerging artists to have a democratic space where to initiate virtually and internationally in the art scene. Independent artists can particularly benefit from this. Our local artistic community is growing steadily, if we visualize ourselves as part of a symbiotic community where we all consume and make art, demand will emerge more opportunities for all.
If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice?
I would tell her that she can. And also, that there are many forms of creative expression, we cannot limit ourselves to the innetaineble models popular culture imposes. We see kids idolizing pop icons, virtuous dancers and famous actors, these are not bad, just to limiting. As an educator, I try to encourage my students to use the internet to learn and familiarize with as many artist and art forms as possible.
(picture of Marili Pizarro by Raul Porro)
What is your biggest goal right now?
Success. As broadly and ambiguous as it sounds. I redefine success constantly. I’ve had very successful seasons in the past year and hope this won’t be the exception.
What do you seek to achieve with work?
Through my work, I seek to understand myself and the layered complexities of the world, a little better.
All of the pictures in this article were provided by Marili Pizarro