Updated: Jan 13
1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?
Vivir para contarla / Gabriel García Marquez Memory (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art) / Various Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Photography / Robert Farris Thompson
2. What are you currently working on?
I am working on drawings that explore the influence of the African heritage in the Caribbean. The relationship between land and sea and how sea became a portal where slaves to be lost every physical trail of their identity. I am also exploring the remnants of those groups in our culture and the role of memory in the perpetuation, rescue, reinterpretation or reconfiguration of what constructed their culture and society. 3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?
I guess that coming from a lower mid class working family helped me appreciate every opportunity. I guess that the fact I witnessed my parents struggle to give us an emotionally and physically healthy and secure life set an amazing example. At a very young age I understood that opportunities won't come knocking at our door. My mom restlessly drove me to those opportunities. She showed me that with every chance of success you get, there is a chance of failure. For some reason I never got tired of proving myself.I guess that my favorite failure happened when I stopped doing my own work and started using my drive and experiences to open doors to artists I thought needed some kind of success and recognition. The majority of those artist where laking success because they where not doing what they had to do. They where not receptive to failure and where not working hard enough. I was doing their work. I had failed myself...
4. What is your most unusual habit?
I hang my t-shirts by color and every color by its tone.
5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?
Francis Picabia or Francesco Clemente
6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?
I need to have plants, a bluetooth speaker and a coaster. My studio is clean and organized. Works are categorized by mediums, dimensions and body of works. I have small objects and fidgets.
7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?
When I lived in Puerto Rico, I used to drive to the coast and spend three or four days at the beach. Now that I live in Texas I have my studio at home. So just try to stay away from it. Read pending readings, watch Law and Order SVU and Ancient Aliens. If I have enough time and money I go to Disney World.
8. Who/What influences your work?
My wife, my family, Puerto Rico, the sea, my childhood, nature, failure, success, the unknown, cinema, fear, food, smells, music...
9. Do you collect anything?
Memories and miniature objects
10. What words of advice would you give to your younger self?
It's your life...own it!
11. In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?
Meditation and the fact that I have been more disciplined.
12. Share an inspiring image.
Juan's work is available on ARTSY and on view at James May North as a part of the exhibition: SUDDEN CHANGE OF WIND.
Exhibition dates: December 6 - January 25
James May North
219 State Street
Algoma, WI 54201
Friday & Saturday 10-5
*or by appointment