Valeria Banchs: A Collegiette Rising Star with a Passion for Art

Valeria Banchs a sophomore Fine Arts major, is finding out that pursuing a career as an artist can be a difficult endeavor full of uncertainty, especially in a world where art is oftentimes not deemed a serious career. Valeria is here to prove these stereotypes wrong. She marches forward with her ambitions as an artist, promoting the arts and their importance. Her passion and originality is reflected in her incredible paintings which were displayed this past semester in Arte en la Placita and the Mu Alpha Phi’s sorority’s January Initiation Showcase. This semester, she is taking her talents overseas to complete an exchange program in the beautiful and vibrant city of Madrid, Spain.  Early in the semester, I caught up with Valeria to talk about her dreams and aspirations.

 

What has inspired you to pursue a career in Visual Arts?

I just love art, I live for it! I guess it was always sort of a hidden passion until I got to high school where I changed schools and a teacher said to me: "Hey, have you realized the light you shine through your drawings?" And with those words I woke up and decided to embrace my talent and my passion for art. I didn't even know that I was that good until people started applauding my work and appreciating my crazy and creative point of view. And so I chose art, not only as a career, but as a way of life.

Have you always known what you wanted to study?

No. I didn't have a clue at first. I was raised by very traditional parents where they saw my excellent grades as a free pass to Medical school. My grades got me into math clubs, science clubs, Spanish clubs, you name it, I was there thinking: "What am I doing here?" I was even in the National Honor Society, which to my mom meant: "Yup, my daughter is going to study science! Yes!" Boy was she wrong. So yeah, because of that I was really confused with what the hell was I going to study. What the hell did I want to do for the rest of my life?! There was a time where I thought I wanted to study Ophthalmology because of my fascination with eyes. But time passed and I realized I didn't even like science although I was good at it. I remember one day in my senior year I was in my Physiology class and I looked at my book, I looked at my teacher, I looked at the board, and I said to myself "I hate science". I guess it may seem a bit hurtful to all of those who adore science, but I just couldn't see myself studying such a long time something I didn't even like! So, then I said to myself: "Okay so what makes me happy?" To my surprise, that was the easiest question I had asked myself my whole life. I realized that when I was my best self was when I was painting or drawing. What made me happy was creating art. So I confidently decided to go against the current. To do what not many do. To study what truly makes me happy, to study my passion. I decided to study Fine Arts.

What are some of your plans for the future? Do you plan to continue graduate studies?

I don't like much planning ahead. I like to let my hands flow, I appreciate letting those thoughts and that paintbrush flow. For now, I know that I'm in the right place studying art. But I'm still not quite sure what I want to do with it yet. I like many types of arts, but my current favorite is urban art, also known as street art. I like art that everyone can see. Huge, colorful, screaming art that people, inevitably, are drawn to look at. I also like the idea of creating my own brand, creating a name for myself. I don't know man. I want to do so many things, I don't think I'll do just one thing, I feel like I have to accomplish much more. But yeah, I'll probably continue graduate studies in a specialty in Spain.

Have you ever had a teacher that influenced your career choices?

No, I have made those important decisions all by myself. But I have had various teachers who have inspired me to embrace my talent. The one teacher that made me see my potential was Mrs. Brenda Santiago, I owe her so much. I guess you could say that she discovered me, she discovered my talent. And for that, I thank her. In college I've also had professors that have given me different perspectives in this world of art. But it has been one of them that has given me golden advice, a beautiful soul that has shown me the colors I shine from within: Professor Alfredo Ortiz, thank you for helping me bloom.

What motivated you to study abroad?

The immense amount of art in Madrid! Madrid has a fantastic art movement and it's rich in culture. It's filled with inspiration everywhere I go! And I decided to study in the Complutense University of Madrid because of its amazing Fine Arts faculty--it’s insane! They offers so many classes and so many resources that I could only dream to have in Puerto Rico. I shine with positivity with the immense respect people have here towards art and artists. I am in love!

Have you ever been overseas before?

Yes, I have! But only for vacation to visit family. Now it is completely different because I'm living on my own in a city I've never been in. It’s radical man, love it!! It is a surprise everyday, just how I like it.

How do you think a semester in Madrid will influence your career? What are your expectations for the program?

It will influence amazingly in every way! I mean, there are no boundaries over here! I am going to learn so much and I'll grow. I'll learn new types of art, new methods, new artists, new everything! I expect to broaden my horizons even more and try new things. And whether I fail or succeed, it all counts as an incredible experience and you learn from that. You keep practicing what you love until you achieve your goals, and that's exactly what I'll do.

What is the story behind your signature, “La Loca”?

Wow, what a story... My family is filled with a bunch of lunatics and I'm one them. Since I can remember my parents have always said I was crazy, that I had problems and stuff. I took it as something really negative then, but as I grew up, I got tired of my parents making me feel bad for being different. For showing strange colors, for thinking differently, for having a messy spirit, for having a different perspective on life, for being weird, etc. I got tired of seeing that as something negative and changed it. I decided to embrace my madness, I decided to embrace my own colors, I decided to love myself for who I truly am. And if being different is called "crazy", then I'll be the craziest of them all. I like who I am and I don't plan on changing for anybody. So I started thinking how could I transform my nickname of "La Loca" to something beautiful and I discussed this with a very good friend, Daniel Desa, who told me to be proud of it and transform it into art. I agreed, and since that day I sign my works of art with "La Loca", a signature that is also art, that is also part of every piece. And that is how I turned darkness into light, I created art from something that used to be negative. And I am proud of that, I am proud of being a crazy, fun soul. I am proud to be "La Loca" and there is no stopping the mad ones... So watch out! Watch me devour this world with the crazy soul that I am.

Other than marching towards a new adventure overseas, Valeria is working on releasing an original clothing line. There is no stopping this rising talent!