On today’s episode of Trailblazers: Meet The Creatives, I interviewed Ivette Urena, one of the Visual Artists that attended my workshop this past November. I am excited to announce that at the end of this month she will be fulfilling part of her dreamed project by having a semi-solo exhibition. More details at the end of the interview.
Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do.
I am a Visual Artist, a Painter. I am also a proud Doggie Mom of a 16 yr. old American Cocker Spaniel named Amber. I am a #MeToo Survivor. I am an advocate for the Me Too Movement and for child sexual abuse prevention. I am also an Executive Assistant by day for the past 13 years.
What’s your background?
My background is American grown with Dominican roots, a Dominican American. I was born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. However, I like to simply say I am Dominican because I want to feel more Dominican and I feel I am on this journey of wanting to connect more to my Dominican culture at this point in my life.
Define your artistry…
I create original artworks, with my medium of choice acrylic paints on canvas, which possesses the sometimes discreet but present intention of sparking emotions, psychological discussions or responses from the viewer.
What inspires you?
Surviving from childhood sexual abuse and rape in adulthood inspires me to paint on canvas what I couldn’t vocalize about the trauma I experienced, it has helped me heal and connect to others with similar unfortunate experiences. It is the reason why I began to paint. Therefore I organically also feel inspired by causes such as the Me Too Movement, Awareness & Prevention of Domestic Violence Against Women, Awareness & Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Dominican culture and being Latina inspires me because I grew in America away from the Dominican Republic so I want to reconnect with it and learn more about my culture. It’s important for me to acknowledge my roots because it contributes to the woman I am today. My dog Amber, having a pet and learning to be my best self enables me to better care for her and myself, to love unconditionally, she inspires me. My life experiences inspire me.
What does your work aim to say?
My work aims to say to always be your true self, value your culture, never lose your inner child, trauma doesn’t define you, let your voice be heard, love yourself and women deserve to be respected and valued.
What themes do you pursue?
I pursue themes of Child Sexual Abuse, Rape, Domestic Violence Against Women, Women’s Rights, Culture, Being Latina, Pets, and Life Experiences.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I have been told that I am brave for painting about my sexual abuse experiences, for not being afraid to be vulnerable and for talking about it. People have told me “I connect with your art, I have experienced something similar and you inspire me”. I’ve heard some people say “wow that is work, is powerful and I can sense your emotion through it!”.
Who are your biggest influences?
Frida Kahlo is my biggest influence because she lived through her art. She outwardly painted herself living through her pains and battles with her mind and body. She inspires me to do the same with my art.
Should art be funded? Why?
I feel it depends on the circumstances. An artist puts their heart, soul, time and effort into creating artwork and ideally it would be appreciated to receive compensation or funding along with the exposure. I feel public artwork should be funded if it is commissioned for large corporations, outdoor public installations, schools, businesses. Perhaps if there were more grants available and easily accessible to apply to fund public art that would be great, I feel the information on grants and loans isn’t always easy to find. However, art programs in schools should be funded, I feel art is so important for kids because it helps to inspire, expand and challenges their minds, it serves as therapy as well. Then, on the other hand, I feel public art created for charity, non-profit organizations are created sometimes as a gift to support a cause and don’t need to be funded.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Paint your story and the purpose will be clear to anyone who resonates with it and wants to see it.
What is your dream project?
My dream project is to one day do a solo exhibition specifically themed around Sexual Violence Awareness to display my works of art about my reality with the intention to help give a voice to others who have also experienced sexual violence and have it served as a temporary pop-up safe space for survivors of sexual violence to network, connect to others with similar experiences, share their stories to each other, to know they aren’t alone and there is hope and healing after the trauma.
What’s next for Ivette?
Ivette Urena Art #powLatina is to continue to connect with more people who resonate with my art, truly love it and also feels it’s important to be their true self, value their culture, acknowledge their inner child, will not let trauma define them, speak up, practice self-love, stand against sexual and domestic violence. Grow my customized #artbyivetteurena merchandise part of the business. Have my first solo exhibition. Expand my audience and art collectors.
Thank you, Ivette, for being a Creative Trailblazer!
As I mentioned, at the beginning of the interview. Ivette will be exhibiting her work at Pop N’ Pour as part of Latinas Made not Maid Art Pop Up Shop this January 26, 2019, from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The event is FREE, to rsvp, click here.
As always, I encourage you to support your local artists, attend their events, purchase their art, share their work with others!
Ivette Urena is a Dominican artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her passion for art began during childhood and now in adulthood art serves as therapy for her because creating art channels the energy of trauma into objects. Her artwork is expressionist and focused on presenting her traumatic experiences, culture, and passions subjectively to tell her story aspiring to resonate, stimulate moods and feelings in the viewer. Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions and galleries throughout New York City and Berlin, Germany.
View more artwork at www.ivetteurena.com