Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Scene: Mónica Parada

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.


Mónica Parada is an artist who works in several mediums such as painting, sculpture, illustration, and muralism.



What got you into sculpting?

I started sculpting through mask making and puppet making workshops with Deborah Hunt. I had played around a little with clay and as far as illustration I liked to doodle, but my first workshops with her coincided with me also starting to take my art more seriously.


How did you develop your style?

It started with someone telling me I had potential and I should explore that more. Up until then I just “doodled” because I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t being conscious or purposeful about the action of making something. Once I started to actively and consciously pursue art, experimenting with everything I could get my hands on just came naturally. I started off self taught, then I took some workshops and eventually spent about two years taking some courses at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas (EAP) in San Juan. Even before EAP, I started to do small independent art shows in friends’ businesses and spaces. The more I made, the more I discovered my style: the patterns, lines, characters, and themes that started recurring in my work.



How has it evolved through the years?

I think it’s definitely become more rounded out, cleaner, and definitely the themes or subjects I’ve been working on have become more focused. At first I sort of just made things without thinking too much about it, and I still do that as an exercise, but when I am making something for a show or a commission, I’m way more reflective. Sometimes just the process of thinking and giving shape to something can take a week or more before I even sit down to work on it. I give a lot more thought to what things mean to me before, during, and after creating them.


What are some of your influences and inspirations?

Locally, Deborah Hunt. I think she is a great artist and I look up to her a lot. She works from her gut and through that produces thoughtful and honest work which is visually stunning. I am Team Deb forever.

Alexander Calder. He was magical and every time I travel somewhere that has some of his work, I have to go see it. He produced these joyful creations ranging from massive to diminutive and his charm engages my inner child to the utmost extreme.

Jan Svankmajer. Twisted, dark, amazing hands on effects and sculptures made from a wide array of materials. Mind blowing stuff.



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

I want to keep trying new things forever. I’d like to experiment with mosaics, cross-stitching, delve deeper into ceramics, natural pigments, stop motion animation, the list goes on and on. I just feel the urge to try new things. It’s fun and I love making things.


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

There are so many talented people here and so many things happening all the time. Sometimes I’m completely blown away by all the amazing things that people around me are creating. It’s inspiring and there is definitely no shortage of activities.



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

It’s incredible. There are so many spaces opening up or that have been around a while that offer constant access to art, music, dance, and theater. El Local en Santurce, El Cuadrado Gris, REM Project, Pública Espacio, La Respuesta, El Hangar, El Lobi, the list goes on and on.



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

To simply go for it, but because she loves it. To always be honest to who she is and to make art no matter what, without expecting anything in return except the satisfaction of having made it. If as a result other people are into it, perfect, but if not, perfect nonetheless.



What is your biggest goal right now?

To keep growing, to push my limits and keep learning and having fun as I do it.


What do you seek to achieve with work?

I like to connect with people, so when that happens it’s a plus. Mostly to make something that I’m proud of and that I believe in. My ideas and feelings go into my work, but I’m okay with the fact that each individual will look at it through their own ideas and feelings. I think that’s one of the great things about art. You make something, you set it off into the world, and you see what it turns into.


All of the pictures in this article were provided by Mónica Parada.