Hudson, NY / United States
Catalina Viejo Lopez de Roda was born in Malaga, raised in the Canary Islands, Spain and currently lives and works in Hudson, New York. She holds an MFA from Hunter College, NY (2014) and a BFA from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA (2005).
Catalina, you were born in Malaga, Spain, but you currently live and work in Hudson, New York. Can you tell us all about your journey into the art world?
At 18, I headed off to the US to pursue my Bachelor's in Fine Arts. I attended Montserrat College of Art, a small but wonderful art college on the outskirts of Boston. After graduating, I began to exhibit and share my work with the world. Several years later, I was accepted to Hunter College in New York to pursue my Masters. Soon after graduating, I moved to Hudson, a couple of hours north of the city, and I've been living and working here ever since. I enjoy the balance of having the opportunity to visit NYC once a month, get stimulated by the shows and the buzzing city, but then be able to come up to Hudson, surrounded by nature, and be able to focus on making my work.
In your work, you focus on abstract collage, figurative multi-paneled paintings and mixed media drawings. What is your biggest inspiration?
It sounds cliche, but everything around me inspires me! Specifically, my experiences, body, and relationships all inform my work. I am constantly looking around me, and the most mundane occurrences can spark an idea. I have always worked in various media and forms of representation as I believe it allows for a different interpretation of the theme I might be exploring at the time. For example, a realistic painting of my mother will say something very different about her than an abstract collage. Moving between various mediums also keeps me on my toes, continuously challenged to experiment with new things.
Can you describe your creative process?
My creative process weaves in and out of ideas, sketching, researching, physical making, and re-visiting. It's not an A-Z formula, but rather a very organic process in which sometimes you have to take two steps back to move forward. This approach keeps the work interesting for me and motivates me to continue to raise the bar for myself.
Your work has been exhibited in numerous shows and featured in various publications. What has been the most exciting experience for you so far?
The most exciting experience for me has been the opportunity to make the work consistently and share it with others. These experiences make me feel connected to my community and the world as a whole. Exhibiting and sharing one's work with others is extremely rewarding. I have participated in a couple of museum exhibitions that were very exciting. I am currently about to have a solo show in Boston in which I will show my "Self Care" project. It is something to see two years' worth of work curated and speaking to each other in a clean space … it feels very different from my studio! Having the opportunity to see my work in this setting solidifies what the work means to me, ties any loose ends, and lays out a clear direction in which I would like to go to next.
What is the message behind your art?
My hope with my work is that it makes the viewer feel something when they encounter it. I use my work to connect with others. The viewer will always apply their own experiences and interpretations to the work they see, and I hope my work stimulates them to think or reflect on their lives, choices, and place in the world.
What does your art do for you?
It gives me purpose; it makes me feel alive and helps me understand and process the world around me.
What are the biggest goals and dreams both in life and your art practice?
The most significant achievement in life is to live fully, doing what you enjoy. To take risks that hopefully encourage you to grow as a person. To take care and nurture your relationships. These goals overlap with my art practice, in which I aim to continuously push the boundaries of the work I'm making. Having exhibitions, being published and winning awards are all positive experiences. Still, my two main goals are to continue a consistent art practice and challenge myself in the studio every day. One could be successfully showing day and night, but if you are not excited about the work you're making deep down, the rest feels somewhat superficial. It all always begins with quality work.
You are one of the finalists of the Women United ART PRIZE 2021. Can you describe the process behind selecting the work for such an art contest and give some advice to other artists who are hoping to put their art out there?
I have been doing this long enough that it is apparent to me that anything you apply to is a complete lottery. One should never take an acceptance or rejection personally. It should not dictate the worth of you or your work. I have submitted the same works to different art opportunities, and sometimes it gets accepted, and sometimes it gets rejected. A group of curators might have a very different aesthetic than another group of curators. Jurors might have a minimal amount of spots available for what you might be applying for. It could also be as technical as "we already have too many painters, we need a different media to balance the show out." With this in mind, certain things are within your control, and it is essential to pay attention to them. Some of the basics are to make sure your work is well documented, follow instructions on whatever you are applying to, and inform yourself about the organization's mission and if your work is a good fit for that. I think it's important to remember that it should be a reciprocal relationship.
What is your number one advice to fellow artists when it comes to building their art career?
First is recognizing that there is a clear distinction between art-making and an art career. You cannot have a meaningful art career if you're not investing deeply in art-making. The goal, focus, and emphasis should always be making the best work you can make. Ideally, you want to exhibit, sell and share work that you are proud of and feel contributes to the world in a meaningful way. I think it's essential to carve out a sacred amount of time for your studio practice that is just yours that nobody or nothing can interrupt.
Once you have made quality work, it becomes a matter of persistence and trying to enjoy the wild rollercoasters of the art world. Always professionally present yourself and your work. How you treat and manage your work is how others will most likely treat it.