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Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Valeria Nahyr Quiñones Torres

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.


Valeria Nahyr Quiñones Torres is an inspirational artist working mostly in the field of photography while doing a little bit of writing and drawing on her free time as a form of liberation.


(picture of the artist by Hans Font)


What got you into photography?

Since I was very young, I’ve had this need to create and have been very in touch with art. When I was about 15 years old I started taking pictures, by that time I was struggling with some emotional issues and used it more as a healing process. For me, it was an extraordinary way to express myself as an artist. It became an inspirational tool to manifest my feelings, emotions, thoughts, and exhibit a vision showing my own perspective in a unique style using images.


How did you develop your style?

At first, I got really into landscape pictures. I often went on trips to the beach by my own where I started taking my first pictures. The beach has always been a place where I can be with myself to clear my mind so I enjoyed capturing those special moments. They were mostly pictures of the horizon at sunsets, close ups of plants, flowers and every other wonder or spontaneous instant nature has to offer. I could define my style as a very diverse one, but if I had to use one or two words to describe it I would say “mellow” and “emotive”. I also enjoy combining it with collaborative works using models and different types of themes, most of them including nature.



How has it evolved through the years?

It has been evolving and changing through the years as I transform myself and my soul in this adventure we call life, since it’s the root of all my works during this passage as a photographer. It has been constantly changing as I acquire new perspectives, experiences and adventures inspiring me to improve my skills and techniques.


What are some of your influences and inspirations?

There is no doubt that my biggest inspiration of all is nature. Its beauty and unique embracing traits amaze me in ways I cannot easily explain, so I capture them in photographs. People these days live unnoticed about the importance and greatness nature brings among all of us and, through photography, I am able to remind them of the countless beauties nature offers by establishing a relationship or connection between the image and observer. I also give credit to some of my friends who have inspired me during this adventure. They have been a very big part of my transition as an artist. In addition, I am a big fan of works by professional artistic photographers that have helped me to become a better photographer, such as Ben Thouard and Nolan Omura.



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

I would like to learn how to play the guitar, drums or other musical instruments and extend my skills and create art in the field of music. To me, music is as important as any other necessity in life. It has a very special profound healing power. Creating sounds of any kind and being able to communicate through them while it is converted in thoughts by the sense of hearing develops a feeling, which I consider more intense than any other. Art has always been the answer and music contains that unique aspect, which has grown and lied deep inside of me.


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

During my 19 years living here in Puerto Rico, I consider that people have increasingly obtained great interest in art during the past few years. People are now practicing art in every field possible. Some examples are the latest muralist movement and constant growing music industry, which have influenced thousands of Puerto Ricans. I am very glad that a large quantity of people are now committed to invest time in order to maximize their work in the arts, either as part of their living or a hobby. The increasing population creates a cultural generation that values art, what I consider one of the best qualities a community can have.



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

Increasing groups of people in the field of art brought growth in local independent businesses. People are now building their own businesses as artists in areas such as painting, writing, photography, music and more.  In my opinion, this artistic impact is a path forward to transform our society and improve our economic structure as a chain process. This is a positive course because they can contribute to each other at the same time their own individual businesses grows. At the end of the day, we develop a well designed local economy and a society with vision. Maybe it would not solve our problem completely, but I am positive that it will transform and unify our society.


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

First of all, I would tell her that she is already an artist. We are all artists, we just have to put effort in it and that is what some people may have trouble believing. I would tell her to never underestimate her creations. Art has no boundaries, no limits, and we all need to understand that art can be interpreted and understood in abstract ways. What is beautiful to some people, it could make others feel the opposite, this being the main reason why it is called art. I would tell her to escape from frustration and to never give up in case she gets affected by people’s judgment and that not everyone will understand her perspective. Sometimes, we as artists get frustrated because of negative opinions from others, but that does not mean they are correct. Perhaps, there is no correct or incorrect opinion, art just is. And finally I would tell her that art is always the answer, during daylight and nighttime.



What is your biggest goal right now?

My biggest goal is to spread my perspective, my vision, to heal others, and be capable to inspire them. My purpose would be to influence the world, to give them a different point of view to those who need it and for others to understand and create connections.


What do you seek to achieve with work?

I would like to create my own individual business as a photographer while being part of a traveling business so I can have the opportunity to interact with other cultures and places. I really do aspire to keep working on becoming a better photographer, but I would never refer my achievements as individual goals. I would rather say that is more of a collective achievement. Art, besides being a pathway of healing and creation, it also means communication. It contains the perfect tools to influence others and help each other in our existence, I might as well use them properly. What I really aspire to achieve with my work is based on what I can offer to the world, an idea, thoughtfulness, a bigger picture, and to keep transforming feelings and emotions into reality.


All of the pictures in this article were provided by Valeria Nahyr Quiñones Torres


Fernando E. E. Correa González is the author behind over 20 self-published poetry books. He has been published by literary magazines & journals [Id]entidad, El Vicio del Tintero, Sábanas Magazine, Smaeralit and Tonguas. Other than writing, Correa is also a filmmaker, podcaster, photographer and master’s student. He currently lives in his native Puerto Rico.
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